---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 15:35:24 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.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
By STEVE VISSER and LATEEF MUNGIN
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
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
"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
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
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
Defense attorney Jack Martin, who called Al-Amin a civil
rights activist, loving father, community leader and
spiritual adviser, criticized the prosecutor's reference
"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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