OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Friends and family of an Oklahoma death row inmate, Julius Jones, are grateful for a series of tweets from Kim Kardashian West, calling on the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and Governor Kevin Stitt to commute his death sentence.
A day after Archbishop of Oklahoma City Paul Coakley publicly called on the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to grant Julius Jones, an Oklahoma death row inmate, commutation, Kim Kardashian West is also weighing in.
“I was eating a Reese’s pieces cup and I choked on it because somebody said, 'did you see the tweet?' I said, 'what do you mean?'” Antoinette Jones, Julius Jones’ sister, told News 4.
In a series the tweets from Kardashian West, she talks about Jones’ conviction.
“I looked and I was like, I was like wow. No words could express, but I’m truly grateful,” Antoinette Jones said.
In one of the tweets to her 62.1 million followers, West wrote, “I believe in his innocence, let’s correct his wrongful conviction @GovStitt.”
Both Antoinette Jones and Julius’ best friend, Jimmy Lawson, were stunned.
“I’m like Kim K! Yes! Such a neat deal to have someone of her status to kick in and support the pursuit for justice for Julius Jones. That’s amazing,” Lawson said.
Jones was 19 years old and an honor student on scholarship at the University of Oklahoma when Paul Howell was shot to death in the driveway of an Edmond home in 1999.
Jones was convicted of Howell’s murder in 2002. He’s spent the past 20 years in prison and has maintained his innocence.
“The U.S. Supreme Court twice declined to look at the issues in Julius` case, issues related to racism,” Dale Baich, one of Jones’ federal defense attorneys, told News 4.
Claims that a juror made a racially-charged statement during the trial and a lack of solid evidence are at the center of recent filings by Jones’ legal team.
“We are now out of court and the next option available to Julius is to ask the pardon and parole board to look at his case and consider making a recommendation of commutation,” Baich said.
Jones’ attorneys filed a petition for clemency on Tuesday.
The people who know him best are holding out hope that Jones will one day walk free.
"We're praying for mercy on his behalf. It's been 20 long years,” Antoinette Jones said.
"We highly appreciate everybody supporting and diving in with us. It makes a difference. The voice makes a difference,” Lawson said.
Baich expects to hear back from the pardon and parole board by the first of the year. If they grant Jones a hearing and recommend commutation, it will then be up to Governor Kevin Stitt to ultimately approve it.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater has said those defending Jones have “disseminated misinformation and lies regarding the trial and evidence” in the case.
Governor Stitt's office sent the following statement:
"The governor’s office has been paying close attention to this case. There is not an official position at this time, as we are continuing to actively listen to Oklahomans and those involved in the Julius Jones case and wait for the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation.”