OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to disqualify two Pardon and Parole Board members from dealing with any matters involving death row inmate Julius Jones, including his upcoming commutation hearing. Prater is also asking for the hearing to be put on hold pending that request.
“I hope that the PPB continues to hold the hearing on Monday,” Jimmy Lawson, best friend of death row inmate Julius Jones, told KFOR on Thursday. “Allow that system to make a judgment between what’s right and what’s wrong.”
In two lengthy motions filed by Prater earlier this week, Prater accuses Oklahoma Pardon and Parole members Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle of having bias, a conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety.
Prater wants them both disqualified from participating in any matters related to Julius Jones, including his commutation hearing.
After both Luck and Doyle refused to disqualify themselves, the state filed an appeal, asking the Supreme Court to disqualify them. The state also is requesting Monday’s commutation hearing be put on hold, pending his filings with the Supreme Court.
In the lengthy motions, Prater talks about Luck’s work with the nonprofit City Care, which helps the homeless after they’ve been incarcerated. He also points to Luck’s position on the national board of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), which is connected to the group Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, according to the documents, which aims to reduce incarceration rates in Oklahoma.
Prater also mentions in one of the motions about Doyle’s position as the Regional Director for CEO. He writes, “Doyle’s private employment colors her judgment when voting to parole, commute or release any inmate.”
He’s accusing both Luck and Doyle of essentially “following the money,” saying “the more people come into CEO and/or City Care, the more ‘contributions’ CEO and City Care are able to procure.” He goes on to say, “Luck’s vote to release increases CEO’s ability to raise contributions.”
He makes the same type of accusations against Doyle, writing, “The more money coming into CEO, the higher the salary of executives, like Doyle.”
Among the accusations against Luck, Prater references several news and opinion articles where Luck gets emotional about the incarceration rates in Oklahoma, talking about getting more people out of prison. He also criticizes Luck’s social media, pointing to many tweets, including one where Luck reposts a tweet by Kim Kardashian West where she is supporting Jones.
Jones’ friends and family, like Lawson, tell News 4 they are just hoping Prater’s requests are denied.
“Once we have that opportunity on Monday to present our side of the story, I feel really, really positive about an amazing positive outcome,” Lawson said.
Jones has been on death row for 22 years.
He was convicted of killing Edmond businessman Paul Howell in July of 1999 in the driveway of his parents’ home. The case has received national attention, with Jones’ supporters, including several celebrities, standing behind his claims that he is innocent.
Attorney General John O’Conner asked the Court of Criminal Appeals for an execution date for Jones, but one has not yet been set.
Jones’ commutation hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 13, at 9 a.m.