OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After an Oklahoma death row inmate’s case received national attention, an Oklahoma organization has joined in the fight to encourage the governor to grant clemency in the case.
In July of 1999, Edmond businessman Paul Howell was shot and killed in the driveway of his parents’ Edmond home. Investigators say the alleged suspect took off in Howell’s Suburban after killing the businessman.
At the time of the crime, Julius Jones was a 19-year-old honor student on a scholarship at the University of Oklahoma.
Jones was arrested and was put on trial for the murder. Jones never took the stand, and he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death.
His supporters said his original defense team failed him, never even bringing up his alibi for the night of the murder.
However, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said those defending Jones have “disseminated misinformation and lies regarding the trial and evidence” in the case.
The Jones family has always maintained Julius’ innocence.
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not get involved in the case when Jones’ attorney argued that people of color in Oklahoma are more likely to be sentenced to death when the victim in the case is white.
Weeks later, his attorneys filed a new appeal asking the court to consider evidence against a specific juror.
That juror is accused of using a racial slur when referring to Jones during the trial, and reportedly told another member of the jury that someone should shoot Jones ‘behind the jail.’
Defense attorneys say the judge in the case knew about the conversation, but didn’t remove the juror from the trial.
However, the Supreme Court still denied Jones’ petition for a judicial review.
“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.
Now, his attorney has filed a clemency petition for Jones’ case.
In recent weeks, Jones’ case has gained national attention and support.
Now, the Oklahoma State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is also urging Gov. Stitt to grant Jones' clemency request.
“The troubling issues in Mr. Jones’ case is frighteningly like those found in many of the cases of men and women who were fortunate to be exonerated before their death sentences were carried out. Most of these cases, as with Mr. Jones’ case, have zero physical evidence and rely solely on witness testimony, circumstantial evidence, and faulty or fraudulent forensic evidence," a news release from the organization read.
Governor Stitt's office sent News 4 the following statement last week:
"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.”