OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) dismissed the petition by death row prisoner Julius Jones, who sought a hearing to present new evidence of racial bias in his case.
“No court has ever considered all the extensive evidence in this case, including evidence of explicit racial bias, police and prosecutorial misconduct, and informant testimony. We will continue to seek a fair hearing for Mr. Jones, who was wrongfully convicted and has spent 18 years on Oklahoma’s death row for a crime he did not commit,” said Dale Baich, one of Mr. Jones’ attorneys.
Jones and his attorneys were petitioning to present evidence that a member of the jury "said the trial was a waste of time and ‘they should just take the n***** out and shoot him behind the jail.'"
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.
The Jones family have always maintained Julius' innocence.
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.
Six months ago, the state agreed to test certain items at the request of Jones' attorneys. The defense is seeking DNA analysis on a red bandanna, a key piece of evidence that was not tested by police in 1999.
"The only witness to the shooting said that the shooter wore a red bandanna over his face. What we’re trying to determine is if there is DNA in that bandanna that can clear Mr. Jones," attorney Dale Baich said. "The state has had the ability to test this for the last 19 years and for whatever reason, they chose not to so last year, we asked to do that testing."
Testing is being done at an independent lab. According to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, one of his lawyers called months ago asking for a status update but were told they could not speak about the matter. That's where Prater's office has asked the court to step in.
"We’re not afraid of the truth, but we need total transparency," Prater said. "Really, we just want to know when this is all going to be done. You’ve had the state’s evidence for six months. We haven’t seen it for six months. We’re starting to be concerned when you’re talking about where our evidence is and what’s going on with it."