Head Strong: Maureen Faulkner’s never-ending battle

May 01, 2011|By Michael Smerconish

‘Till death do us part.”

Maureen Faulkner accepts no such limitation on her marital vow, which she recited to her husband, Danny, on Nov. 8, 1980. She knew him for only 913 days, 396 of which they were married, but she views this as an infinite commitment. And when District Attorney Seth Williams called her with bad news Tuesday, she reaffirmed that commitment.

She will never forget the knock on the door at about 4 a.m. on Dec. 9, 1981, and hearing the news that her husband, Police Officer Danny Faulkner, had been shot.

A chain reaction of misery ensued.

Her parents, Annamae and Jim Foley, were then awakened with the news, as were her brothers. Danny’s father, Thomas, a trolley operator, died when Danny was just 10, but his mother, Mary, who raised seven children on her own, was then living with Danny’s brother Kenny.

Kenny answered the phone, and when told of his brother’s shooting, asked, “Where?”

“In the face,” was the reply, and Kenny then heard a shriek. He realized that his mother had picked up an extension.

The calls continued.

Sister Joanne was told, so, too, brothers Thomas Jr., Joseph, Lawrence, and Patrick. Patrick knew only that Danny had been shot, but, driving to Thomas Jefferson Hospital, he heard on KYW a report on the passing of a cop. He knew it was his kid brother.

Maureen’s parents accompanied her to every day of the trial in 1982, but they are gone now. So, too, is Danny’s mother. And Joanne, as well as brothers Thomas, Joseph, and Kenny. Only Pat and Larry remain. All the others passed without a sense of closure, a chance to see justice served on their loved one’s killer.

They all died of natural causes, and sadly, Mumia Abu-Jamal probably will, too. Surely Maureen knows this, which only makes her battle to see the will of the jury imposed that more laudatory.

The federal judicial system has made a mockery of the verdict. Pennsylvania’s death penalty is a fraud and a fiction. More than 200 inmates sit on death row, but even they know that only three individuals have had such sentences carried out since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstituted capital punishment in the 1970s – and each of them asked for it. Heck, not only can you live a long life after murdering a cop, but you also can deliver radio commentaries, write books, and be a college commencement speaker.

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