[sixties-l] Al-Amin sentenced to life without parole for killing deputy (fwd)

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Date: Fri Mar 15 2002 - 05:11:52 EST

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    Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 15:35:24 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Al-Amin sentenced to life without parole for killing deputy

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 3.14.2002]

    Al-Amin sentenced to life without parole for killing deputy

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

    Just before Judge Stephanie Manis sentenced Jamil
    Abdullah Al-Amin to spend the rest of his life behind
    bars for killing a sheriff's deputy, she asked him if he
    would like to speak.
    He shook his head and mouthed the word "No."
    Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, who had
    been vilified by the Muslim cleric's supporters, said Al-
    Amin's silence spoke volumes. "To the bitter end, he
    refused the victim's family that sliver of hope that he
    would acknowledge his responsibility and say he was
    sorry," Howard said.
    After 4 1/2 hours of deliberation, a Fulton County jury
    Wednesday spared Al-Amin, deciding he deserved a
    sentence of life without parole. Manis also sentenced Al-
    Amin to another 30 years in prison for other crimes
    related to the March 16, 2000, gunfight that left one
    officer dead and another wounded.
    Asked whether he felt disappointment that a convicted
    cop killer escaped the death penalty, Howard frowned and
    shrugged. "He deserved it," Howard said. "But we went
    from a case where people said we wouldn't get a
    conviction to life without parole."
    Prosecutors Robert McBurney, Kellie Stevens, Anna Green
    and Ron Dixon took a case cluttered with reports of
    blood trails and a mysterious wounded gunman and
    convinced the jury they were red herrings.
    They presented witnesses and forensic evidence that
    didn't match the account of their star eyewitness, and
    they prevailed in their contention that Al-Amin was a
    lone gunman who killed Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy
    Ricky Kinchen.
    Al-Amin, 58, was convicted Saturday of killing Kinchen
    as the 35-year-old deputy and his partner, Deputy
    Aldranon English, tried to serve the Muslim cleric with
    a Cobb County arrest warrant.
    English was wounded in the gunbattle near Al-Amin's
    store in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta. English
    survived and identified Al-Amin as the gunman.
    The jury -- nine African-Americans, two whites and a
    Hispanic -- had three sentencing options: death, life in
    prison without parole or life with the possibility of
    Relatives of the slain deputy, many of whom had sat
    through the entire three-week trial, indicated approval
    of the sentence. "We came here looking for truth and
    justice," said brother David Kinchen, 38. "And we are
    satisfied that we got both."
    Carol Morris, Kinchen's sister, asked Al-Amin's
    supporters to re-evaluate their opinion of him as an
    innocent man.
    "I would like the world to know and the Muslim community
    also to know that you can't judge a book by its cover,"
    she said. "If it is evil on the inside, evil will come
    Despite seeming contradictions, the case against Al-Amin
    was convincing. English first said the killer had gray
    eyes, although Al-Amin's eyes are brown. The deputy
    believed he had wounded his attacker, but Al-Amin was
    uninjured when arrested four days after the shooting.
    Still, other evidence proved overwhelming. Al-Amin's car
    was found in the small town in Alabama where he was
    arrested. Police dug bullets fired by both Kinchen and
    English from Al-Amin's Mercedes-Benz.
    Federal agents said they found a pistol and a
    semiautomatic rifle on the trail Al-Amin took through
    woods shortly before he was arrested. A ballistics test
    matched a bullet taken from Kinchen's body to the pistol
    and traced shell casings found at the crime scene to the
    "They did an outstanding job -- absolutely outstanding,"
    said Sheriff Jackie Barrett of the prosecutors.
    Howard said he hoped the verdict would signal a new day
    since the O.J. Simpson trial eight years ago. The not-
    guilty verdict in the sensational Simpson case fractured
    the nation's racial fault lines, partly because one race
    seemed so certain he was guilty and another seemed so
    skeptical of the police.
    In this case, Al-Amin, a former high-profile black-power
    militant who went by the name H. Rap Brown before
    converting to Islam 31 years ago, claimed a massive law
    enforcement conspiracy against him because of his
    militant past and Islamic present.
    The district attorney said the Al-Amin verdict
    symbolized a more united nation and city. He said it was
    a verdict that would have made the Rev. Martin Luther
    King Jr. proud. Left unsaid was that it came in a city
    where African-Americans such as District Attorney Howard
    and Sheriff Barrett had risen to power.
    "This case is not about and has never been about civil
    rights, race, religion or 30-year-old conspiracies,"
    Howard said. "It is about the cold-blooded gunning down
    of two deputy sheriffs. Simply put, it is about justice."
    Al-Amin's attorneys, meanwhile, said they will appeal
    the verdicts.
    And while the Kinchen family and prosecutors asked that
    the public accept the verdict because the jurors were
    the ones who had heard all the facts, worshippers at Al-
    Amin's Community Mosque in West End seemed steadfast in
    their belief in a conspiracy.
    After the jury had gone home, Ed Brown, Al-Amin's
    brother, put forth an alibi for the night of the
    shooting -- something Al-Amin hadn't mentioned at the
    trial. Brown said his brother was eating dinner with his
    family at the Red Lobster on Old National Highway at the
    time of the shooting.
    The defense, however, called no witnesses from the
    alleged dinner.
    Prosecutor McBurney disclosed that Al-Amin's cellphone
    records, which weren't used during the trial because of
    legal questions over their admissibility, showed "he
    made a number of calls immediately after the shooting to
    both of his wives, and the trail led right to Alabama." .
    Seventeen character witnesses testified on Al-Amin's
    behalf, including civil rights activist and former
    Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and William Abdur-Rahim,
    father of Atlanta Hawks basketball player Shareef Abdur-
    Kathleen Cleaver, a law professor at Emory University
    and a former Black Panther, was in the courtroom when
    the verdict was read. She knew H. Rap Brown, who served
    a short stint in the Black Panther Party. She had little
    contact with him after he moved to Atlanta in 1976. He
    changed his name after converting to Islam in prison in
    New York, where he was arrested after a gunfight with
    police and convicted of attempted robbery of a bar.
    "It is disheartening to see how Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin
    has been persecuted, prosecuted, demeaned and silenced,"
    a moist-eyed Cleaver said Wednesday. "But still we have
    to be pleased that we still have his light -- even
    though it will be locked up in a cage."
    Prosecutor Dixon said Kinchen's killing was in itself
    reason to sentence Al-Amin to death, but the brutality
    of the murder added to the call for his execution.
    Experts testified Al-Amin stood over the helpless
    Kinchen and fired three shots into his groin. "The
    defendant said I'm not only going to kill you, but I'm
    going to take your manhood," Dixon said. "I am going to
    emasculate you. Castrate you."
    Dixon said Al-Amin's good deeds in the past did not
    excuse him from facing a severe punishment for his
    crimes. He told jurors they had the chance to show the
    killing of a police officer would not be tolerated.
    Paraphrasing King, Dixon said, "A man who will not stand
    up for what is right is dead. Show the defendant you are
    not dead."
    Defense attorney Jack Martin, who called Al-Amin a civil
    rights activist, loving father, community leader and
    spiritual adviser, criticized the prosecutor's reference
    to King.
    "It bothers me that the prosecution used the words of
    Martin Luther King to ask a jury to kill someone,"
    Martin said. "Martin Luther King also said an eye for
    eye will leave us all blind."
    Martin told the jurors that any lingering doubts about
    Al-Amin's guilt should persuade them not to vote for the
    death penalty. Martin disputed the point that Al-Amin
    stood over the deputy and fired into his groin, saying a
    ballistics expert testified the shots could have come
    from a distance.
    Alisa Francis, Kinchen's sister-in-law, made a public
    plea to leave the English and Kinchen families in
    peace. "If you feel negative about the verdict, do not
    turn the anger or your malice toward the families," she
    said. "We're the innocent ones."

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