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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Former Panther faces death in Atlanta murder trial

Shouts. Shots. Sneakers and blood hit the ground running. One officer dead, the other wounded.

It is now two years, a recanted third-party confession, tainted evidence, and contradictory testimonies later. The accused stands facing death if twelve consciences decide he is to suffer the fate of a cop killer.

On the stand is the accused, Jamil Al-Amin. He is a 58-year-old Muslim cleric once known as black militant H. Rap Brown.

On March 16, 2000, two Atlanta deputies went to a store that Al-Amin owned to serve him an arrest warrant that was due to his failure to make a court appearance on the charge of theft by receiving stolen property.

The deputies were greeted with gunfire from a man sheltering himself behind a black Mercedes-Benz. Deputy Richard Kinchen was fatally wounded and died in the hospital the next day. The other officer survived to report that the gunman had been wounded, and that there was a blood trail.

Dogs, Helicopters, and SWAT teams followed the trail until it went cold in a vacant, west Atlanta house. On March 20, Al-Amin was arrested without a scratch on him, 175 Miles away from Atlanta in Lowndes County, Alabama.

The trial is now underway, and testimony of the surviving officer, Aldranon English, is bringing more confusion than clarity. While charges of racism still persist, they have been slightly muted by English being black also.

English told investigators in the days following the incident that the man who shot him had gray eyes. He repeated the description twice more, and was angered when investigators hinted that he was wrong about the man’s eye color.

A month later, English changed his story. He now said the gunman wore yellow-tinted glasses at night.

This was the first of many inconsistencies pointed out by defense attorney Jack Martin. In one account, English said he approached the suspect. In another, English said he never advanced, shielding himself with the open door of the police car. In varying versions of the story, English described the suspect as wearing different-color hats.

English said he had shot the suspect at close range and wounded him, but “Al-Amin had no wounds when he was arrested and the bullet casings at the scene suggested that English shot from a further distance than what he had said,” Martin said.

English, the prosecution’s only witness, identified Al-Amin from a photo line-up soon after he underwent surgery and had been given 4 milligrams of morphine. Defense lawyers argue that Atlanta Police coached English to identify Al-Amin.

The growing number of Al-Amin supporters claim “mounting evidence” that he is a victim of governmental grudge. In 1995, He was accused of aggravated assault after a man claimed Al-Amin had shot him. The man later recanted and said he was pressured by Atlanta authorities to identify him as the shooter.

In fact, the 58-year-old whom neighbors describe as “a man who tried to clean up the streets of drugs and prostitution,” has been arrested for murder 15 times in the past 20 years, according to Ed Brown, Amin’s brother, and the family spokesman. “On every single occasion, either someone else has confessed, or the state hasn’t had enough evidence to bring an innocent man to trial.

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