PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A federal appeals court in Philadelphia today reaffirmed its earlier ruling that convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal should get a new sentencing hearing.

The ruling does not affect Abu-Jamal’s conviction for killing officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981 — that still stands.

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But the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is upholding its earlier decision that the death penalty instructions to the jury at his trial were unclear, and that Abu-Jamal should be granted a new sentencing hearing.  The US Supreme Court ordered the Third Circuit last year to review that decision.

The three judges heard new arguments, and they’ve decided to uphold their earlier ruling.  In a statement, Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams says his office is reviewing the Third Circuit ruling, and considering whether to appeal it back to the US Supreme Court.

“We continue to maintain that granting this new sentencing hearing is contrary to clearly established precedent of the United States Supreme Court, and we are now considering whether to seek further review of today’s decision in the Supreme Court.”

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No comment yet from Abu-Jamal’s appeals attorney.  In the meantime, Abu-Jamal remains on death row.

Still, a legal victory for Abu-Jamal, 58, who has been an international cause celebre for anti-death penalty activists.

Reported by Mike DeNardo, KYW Newsradio 1060

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