David Wycoff, brilliant physicist, mathematician, and lawyer for the
downtrodden and death row prisoners -- and former member of the Red
Balloon Collective at Stony Brook in the early 80s -- died suddenly in
Philadelphia last week of an apparent heart attack! O my god,
David!!!! (How many times can a heart break open ?)
Beautiful, committed person ....
Here's Mumia Abu-Jamal's statement, attached as MP3.
Here' the article from the Philly Inquirer:
David Wycoff, 56; fought for prisonersJanuary 09,
2013|By Vernon Clark, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
David Warren Wycoff, 56, of South Philadelphia, a Philadelphia public
defender who fought on behalf of prisoners on death row, died of an
apparent heart attack Saturday, Jan. 5, at Pennsylvania
For 20 years, Mr. Wycoff worked for the Federal Public Defender's Capital
Habeas Unit in Philadelphia.
Mr. Wycoff "was very proud to be a public defender," said his
wife, Deborah Freedman, herself a lawyer. "He believed strongly that
the death penalty was not just."
One of the highlights of his career occurred in 2005, when he argued a
case before the U.S. Supreme Court, unsuccessfully challenging a homicide
conviction, his wife said.
Mr. Wycoff was known for working long hours and could often be seen
editing briefs while at his swim club and other venues.
Mr. Wycoff was born on Feb. 3, 1956, in Oklahoma City. In 1978, he earned
a bachelor of science degree at Oklahoma State University. He later
received a doctorate in physics from the State University of New York at
In 1992, Mr. Wycoff graduated from the Yale University School of Law.
That year he came to Philadelphia to be a clerk for U.S. District Judge
In 1998, he married Freedman, whom he met during law school. The couple
had two sons.
Mr. Wycoff then went to work for the Habeas Unit.
He was a member of a team of defenders who worked on the case of Terrance
Williams, whose death sentence was stayed in October by a judge, citing a
prosecutor's suppression of evidence.
Williams was convicted of killing Amos Norwood during a 1984 robbery.
Williams said Norwood had molested him from age 13 until he was 18, when
Wiliams killed him.
Freedman said Mr. Wycoff worked round the clock for weeks on the
Helen Marino, chief of the Public Defender's Capital Habeas Unit and Mr.
Wycoff's supervisor, said he was a "brilliant lawyer and a wonderful
"His analytical ability was extraordinary and his knowledge of the
law was extensive and deep," Marino said. "He was so
knowledgeable that he taught all of us and made us better at what we
Freedman said Mr. Wycoff enjoyed Scrabble and playing baseball with his
two sons. She said he also enjoyed summer visits to Long Beach
"He was an extremely voracious reader and he was especially
interested in the history of the civil rights movement," Freedman
said. "Frederick Douglass was one of his heroes."
In addition to his wife, Mr. Wycoff is survived by sons Isaac and
A funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at Joseph Levine
& Sons Memorial Chapel, 4737 Street Rd., Trevose.
Donations may be made to the Pennsylvania Capital Representation Project,
Suite 545, West-Curtis Building, Philadelphia 19106.