A final push to persuade Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to grant clemency to a death row convict scheduled for execution on Thursday saw hundreds of students walk out of class and activists gather outside his office on Wednesday.
Julius Jones, the prisoner, was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2002 and given the death penalty. He was suspected of the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, who was shot and killed while in the driver’s seat of his parents’ automobile while parked in their driveway.
At the time of the murder, Mr. Jones, a former high school basketball player from Oklahoma City, was just 19 years old. Mr. Howell, a businessman from Edmond, Oklahoma, was 45 years old at the time of his death.3
Justice for Julius
“Justice for Julius” director Cece Jones-Davis says the state’s Pardon and Parole Board has twice recommended that Mr. Jones’s sentence be commuted to life without the possibility of parole, the most significant step yet in a case that has captivated the nation.
As a result, Ms. Jones-Davis said, Mr. Jones and his family and friends are now waiting to hear if Republican Mr. Stitt would accept or reject the board’s proposal. At 4 p.m. on Thursday, Mr. Jones will be put to death by lethal injection.
Ms. Jones-Davis said on Wednesday, “We hope and believe and trust that the governor will still do the right thing.” “However, the time is ticking down.”
A total of 1,800 students from 13 Oklahoma City public schools walked out in support of Mr. Jones on Wednesday. Students’ rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are supported by the district, according to a statement.
Hundreds of Julius Jones’ supporters gathered at the State House to pray, sing, and chant “release Julius Jones.” The mother of Mr. Jones, Madeline Davis-Jones, proclaimed her son’s innocence in front of the throng.
There should be no mistake about that if her child is executed tomorrow or any day, she remarked. There should not be any doubt about it,” he says. There isn’t the slightest doubt in my mind.”
There will be no remarks until the governor has made a decision, according to an email from Mr. Stitt’s office.
A death sentence for Jones would be Oklahoma’s second execution since John Marion Grant, a man convicted in 1998 of killing a prison cafeteria worker, was put to death on October 28.
Lethal injections have been suspended in Oklahoma since 2015, when the state halted executions due to a mix-up in one case and an inmate who had regained consciousness in another.
During the execution, Mr. Grant vomited and shook for several minutes, which witnesses to executions described as exceedingly unusual. However, a day after the execution of Mr. Grant, state prison officials stated that they would not be making any adjustments to the state’s lethal injection methods.
Scott Crow, the superintendent of Oklahoma’s prison system, acknowledged that Grant’s regurgitation was “not nice to see.” “However, I don’t think it was cruel.”
A lethal injection is slated for Thursday for 41-year-old Julius Jones.
Associated Press/Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Since his release from prison, Mr. Jones, a black man, has maintained his innocence.
Mr. Howell’s death was not my fault,” I stated in an April letter to the parole board. As a result, “I did not participate in any way in his murder; and the first time I saw him was after he was announced dead on TV.”
Those arguments have been denied by the families of white man Mr. Howell, whose sister and two daughters were present when he was shot and killed. They believe that the efforts to award clemency to Mr. Jones have caused them sorrow and anguish.
Mr. Howell’s brother, Brian Howell, claimed at a press conference in September that “our family continues to be abused by Julius Jones and his lies.”
According to the defence team for Mr. Jones, the prosecution relied too heavily on the testimony of a co-defendant who claimed to have witnessed him do the murder and failed to interview family members who claimed to have been present when Mr. Howell was killed.
Supporters of Mr. Jones have asserted that his trial and punishment were tainted by racism. Research has indicated that those convicted of murder are more likely to be executed if the victim was a white person, despite the fact that the majority of death row inmates in Oklahoma and the United States are African Americans.
Celebrities from the worlds of sports, politics, and entertainment have lent their support to Mr. Jones’ clemency petition.
American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp and Faith & Freedom Coalition Executive Director Timothy Head addressed a letter to Mr. Stitt last month, requesting that he commute Mr. Jones’s sentence.
Mr. Schlapp and Mr. Head concluded, “We believe that uncertainty about Jones’s involvement for the capital crime is not unimportant.”
QB Baker Mayfield, a Heisman Trophy winner as a University of Oklahoma football player, expressed optimism that Mr. Jones would not be executed on Wednesday as well.
“We’ll be here in 24 hours,” he said. “It’s difficult, isn’t it?” It’s possible that God will intervene and do what he has to do. “You know, I hope so.”
Last year, Viola Davis created a documentary series about Mr. Jones, and in the year before that, Kim Kardashian West spoke on a podcast about the case, as did James Corden on “The Late Late Show.”
Mrs. Kardashian West tweeted Tuesday that “Julius, his family, and everyone on his team are still hoping Stitt will do the right thing.”
Reporting was provided by Jacey Fortin.