Julius Jones supporters rally to get him new trial

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It was a crime that shocked the Edmond community.

Edmond businessman Paul Howell was gunned down in July of 1999 in the driveway of his parents’ Edmond home. He had just pulled up with his sister and two, young children inside.

The other three were able to run into the house before the gunman took off in Howell’s suburban.

Julius Jones was a 19-year-old honor student on a scholarship at the University of Oklahoma at the time of the murder. He was arrested for the crime, convicted and sentenced to die.

"But, it isn't fair for him to be in jail for something he didn't do,” said Julius’ dad, Anthony Jones.

Anthony and his family have always maintained Julius' innocence.

"All I can say is that, when you know the truth, it's hard to let it go,” Anthony said.

"A lot of people didn't even know, you know, they thought, well, because it happened so quick and we never heard him even say he didn't do it,” said Antoinette Jones, Julius’ sister.

Julius did not take the stand at his trial. And, his supporters said his original defense team failed him, never even bringing up his alibi for the night of the murder.

"Defense team didn't present any evidence of his alibi, didn't call his parents and his brother and sister I think were all home playing board games with him,” said Reverend Don Heath, chairman of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Heath has become a spiritual advisor to Julius, talking to him on the phone over the last month and meeting him in person for the first time this past weekend.

"I really firmly believe he's innocent,” Heath said. "He wants his story to be heard because he feels like his story wasn't heard at trial and really didn't get much of a defense."

Heath said Julius’ current lawyers might have new evidence to get him another trial. They’re testing a red bandana worn by the shooter for DNA.

Julius' family is holding out hope he’ll someday be exonerated.

"I feel like I've had a void through the years by my son not being with us as a family,” said Julius’ mother, Madeline Jones.

The red bandana and the gun used in the crime were both found in the Jones’ home when police searched it back in 1999. Julius’ supporters contend one of his friends, who was convicted of being an accomplice, stashed it there - not Julius.

Heath said the bandana has been at the lab for a few weeks and it might be a few weeks more before they get any conclusive DNA evidence. He said that’s Julius’ best hope right now.

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