OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After an Oklahoma death row inmate’s appeal for a judicial review was denied earlier this year, his attorneys have now filed a petition for clemency.
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.
Now, his attorney has filed a clemency petition for Jones’ case.
To support the petition, several members of the community have issued statements to address concerns with the case.
“At the time of Julius’ trial, the eyewitness description of the shooter did not fit Julius. Instead, it described his co-defendant who served 15 years and is now a free man. Julius’ attorney was an overworked public defender who failed to cross-examine Christopher Jordan, (Julius’ co-defendant,) on the six inconsistent statements he gave to police upon arrest. Christopher Jordan was later overheard bragging that he set-up Julius and was incentivized to testify for a shorter prison time. The evidence used to convict Julius was inconsistent and several eye-witnesses provided an alibi for Julius,” Oklahoma County One Commissioner Carrie Blumbert wrote.
“We must acknowledge the harm done to the victims of this crime and to society at large. We should stand for justice, but we can do that and protect society without resorting to the death penalty. The use of the death penalty only contributes to the continued coarsening of society and to the spiral of violence. Taking another life does not ultimately bring closure and peace to those who have lost a loved one. Justice is necessary, but it is not enough. Mercy perfects justice and brings healing. I urge the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to consider commuting the death sentence for Julius Jones,” reads a statement from Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City.
The clemency petition is under review by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, which will now determine whether his application can advance.
In Oklahoma, only the governor can approve the commutation of a sentence.