OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is asking Oklahomans to wear all black on Thursday, the day of Julius Jones’ scheduled execution, to support Jones and send a united message to Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“We are wearing black not only for the injustice of the Julius Darius Jones [death sentence], but also to send a clear message that if Governor Stitt chooses to execute Julius Jones, he is executing all of us,” Anthony R. Douglas, Oklahoma NAACP President, said in an email to KFOR.
People across the state and throughout the nation are awaiting Stitt’s decision on whether he will commute Jones’ death sentence or maintain the execution scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday.
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 nation say he was failed by his defense team.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Jones’ supporters are disseminating lies.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended commutation for Jones with a 3-1 vote on Sept. 13. However, Stitt announced two weeks later that he would not accept the Board’s recommendation for commutation, saying “a clemency hearing, not a commutation hearing, is the appropriate venue for our state to consider death row cases.”
The Pardon and Parole Board held a clemency hearing on Nov. 2 and voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones.
“There is no time to waste, we can and must put our bodies on the line for Julius Darius Jones,” Douglas said. “A man who has been granted clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board not once, but twice. Governor Stitt is fully aware and knows that the death penalty undermines trust and integrity in the criminal justice system because it is racially biased, inhumane and risks the lives of innocent people.”
Howell’s sister, Megan Howell, and his daughter, Rachel Howell, spoke with KFOR in September. They recalled the night of the murder. They said they believe Jones committed the murder and has continuously lied since.
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.
Jones’ mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, spoke to a large gathering of supporters at the State Capitol on Wednesday and said that her son is not lying about 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,” she 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.”