OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The family and loved ones of death row inmate Julius Jones spoke to supporters gathered at the Oklahoma State Capitol Wednesday, 24 hours before his scheduled execution. Their message was “God is watching.”
“Today, I had high expectations to hug my son. I saw him, but I’ve been seeing him through a glass. A lot of people think I hug him. I don’t get to hug him,” said Jones’ mother, Madeline-Davis Jones.
“How can it be that his family, who has not hugged him for 20-years, goes to see him today before his scheduled execution and they still have to watch him behind a wall and can’t touch him?” said the Rev. Keith Jossell, Jones’ spiritual advisor. “Something is wrong, Oklahoma, with the Department of Corrections!”
While packing the second floor and gathering around the capitol’s rotunda, Jones’ loved ones told Gov. Kevin Stitt it’s time to make a decision and call off the execution.
“Why would I want to see someone hang? We should be through with that! Do you want your baby, your child, to be hanged? And especially if it’s nothing they’ve done?” said Jones’ mother. “My sisters always said, ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil.’ Well, he ought to be shamed today!”
Julius Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 for the July 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell, who was gunned down in front of his two young daughters and sister outside his parents’ home.
Prosecutors said Jones, who was 19 at the time, and his close friend, Christopher Jordan, followed the Howell family from a Braum’s, planning to carjack them and steal Howell’s Suburban.
Jones pleaded not guilty and has since maintained that he is innocent. His many supporters across the state and nation say he was failed by his defense team.
Wednesday at the capitol, Jones’ family maintains his innocence.
“If Julius done wrong he would admit it. I would, I’d be there for him, but I would not be lying for him,” his mother said. “And if you think Julius is guilty, give him a fair trial! Do it over again! Do it right! If my child is executed tomorrow, or any day, it should be without a doubt. There shouldn’t be a doubt, not even a little bit of doubt.”
“Julius is grateful to god. That he chose him to be able to be the spotlight so that you would understand what is wrong with the Department of Corrections in the state of Oklahoma,” said Jossell. “This is an opportunity to try to start a new Oklahoma. If you’re a business and you think you may want to relocate to Oklahoma, look at what we do to our citizens! If you are a family and you think this might be a good Bible Belt place to raise your family, look at what we do to people in Oklahoma!”
“I know I don’t have to say anything about who is strapping him, who is injecting him. Because God sees all, God knows all and God holds everyone accountable.”
Stitt’s staff recently said the governor was praying about what to do regarding Jones’ fate.
While the cheers from Jones’ supporters echoed through the halls of the capitol on Wednesday, Stitt was possibly still praying about the decision in solitude.
“He has had days and days and days and days, and it is cruel that Gov. Kevin Stitt put this man and this man’s family through this,” said CeCe Jones-Davis. “If the governor is still praying, I’m going to pray about why. This governor has nothing to pray about. Life and death is laid before him, blessing and curses are laid before him he has a decision to make, not a prayer to say. You have time, Gov. Stitt, to get this right.
“I promised Julius that regardless of what happens tomorrow, God is taking detailed and taking meticulous notes for everyone who is touching Julius today and tomorrow,” said the pastor.
KFOR’s been told that all non-essential capitol employees may leave at noon Thursday and will be given administrative leave for the day.
KFOR reached out to the Howell family on Wednesday, asking if they wanted to provide a statement as Oklahoma and much of the nation awaits Stitt’s decision. They sent a brief response, saying they’re focusing on being with each other and are not releasing a statement at this time.