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Former black power activist convicted in shooting death of sheriff's deputy


ATLANTA (AP) _ H. Rap Brown, the 1960s black power radical turned Muslim cleric, was convicted of murder Saturday in the shooting of a sheriff's deputy who tried to serve him with a warrant two years ago.

Jurors deliberated 10 hours over two days before finding the Muslim cleric now called Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin guilty of shooting to death Deputy Ricky Kinchen and wounding Deputy Aldranon English on a southwest Atlanta street.

The trial moves Monday to a penalty phase, in which jurors will decide whether to recommend execution or life in prison for the 58-year-old Al-Amin.

He was found guilty of 13 counts, including murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, obstruction and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The verdict came at the end of the third week of the trial, which was postponed once after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because the judge feared anti-Muslim sentiment would taint the jury pool.

Citing a gag order imposed by the judge, attorneys in the case and the family of the slain deputy declined comment. But Al-Amin's brother, Ed Brown, said he didn't think the jury thoroughly considered evidence the defense said pointed to another shooter.

``We will continue to struggle, we will continue to fight and we will try in the next phase to save his life,'' Brown said. ``And we are certainly going to appeal.''

English testified that Al-Amin _ a prominent Muslim iman in Atlanta's West End community _ pulled a high-powered assault rifle and opened fire when he and Kinchen tried to serve him with a warrant on minor Cobb County charges on March 16, 2000.

Prosecutors said Al-Amin shot Kinchen three times in the groin with a 9 mm as he lay bleeding in the street.

English picked Al-Amin out of a photo lineup from his hospital bed the day after the shooting and identified him again in court.

Defense attorneys tried to convince jurors that English was mistaken in his identification and that someone else shot the deputies.

They also suggested that Al-Amin was framed as part of a government conspiracy they said had dogged him since his days as a prominent Black Panther in the '60s.

Al-Amin was arrested four days after the shootings in White Hall, Ala. The .223-caliber assault rifle and handgun were recovered in the woods near the area where he was arrested. The defense suggested that the weapons were planted by federal authorities.

Al-Amin leads one of the nation's largest black Muslim groups, the National Ummah. The movement, which has formed 36 mosques around the nation, is credited with revitalizing poverty-stricken pockets such as Atlanta's West End, where Al-Amin owned a grocery store.

Al-Amin is better known as H. Rap Brown, who served as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1967, he characterized violence as a vital tool for blacks, ``as American as cherry pie.''

Brown changed his name when he converted to the Dar-ul Islam movement in the '70s while serving a five-year sentence for his role in a robbery that ended in a shootout with New York police.
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