OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A crowd of supporters coming from as far as New York and Washington D.C. gathered Saturday afternoon to call for the release of an Oklahoma death row inmate.
Julius Jones was found guilty and sentenced to death in 2002 for the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. His supporters maintain his innocence, and they say he wasn’t even present at the time of the murder.
This comes one month after the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted in favor of commuting Jones’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Advocates say they are now calling on the governor, who has the power to approve or deny that commutation.
“We are really asking the governor right now in this moment because he has the power to do so, to stop and interrupt this process and speed it up so that Julius can return to his family,” said Grassroots Law Project senior adviser Tiffany Dena Loftin. “We came out today for one particular reason and that is to free an innocent black man and make sure he gets to his family very safely.”
The governor has said he will not make a decision until the coming clemency hearing set for Oct. 26th.
Those supporters say that hearing will allow Jones to share his side.
“We’re looking forward for a fair opportunity for Julius for the first time to be able to tell his own story in the public,” Loftin said. “I think he deserves that because I think he has had an unfair process this entire time.”
Many speakers took the time to share their thoughts at Memorial Park before the march started, including former Young Democrats of America president and Broken Arrow alumnus Joshua Harris-Till.
“We have to make it popular for Julius to come home for these politicians to believe it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s sad that that’s the reality of it…that’s the truth.”
Loftin says Jones’ supporters want closure both for Jones and for the Howell family.
“We are sending love and light to the Howell family,” she said. “We would like to see justice for him as well but we believe that nobody gets justice if we kill an innocent man…we should not cause pain on one family for another family’s pain.”
Paul Howell’s family maintains that Jones is the true killer.
They released a statement in September saying, “The guilt of Julius Jones for the murder of Paul Howell remains overwhelming and undeniable, and all the lies and misinformation spread by his supporters will never change the truth.”