OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – NBA stars Trae Young, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin all sent letters to Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, asking them to commute the sentence of Julius Jones.
“This is a serious, serious matter, and I’m not taking that lightly,” Young said at a peaceful protest in Norman on Monday. “I’m going to be supportive until justice is served.”
Julius Jones has been on Oklahoma’s death row for about 14 years. Jones has maintained his innocence in the murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell.
The letters from Westbrook, Griffin and Young were made available by an Oklahoma public affairs firm, Amber Integrated. In Westbrook’s letter, he says Jones’ attorneys “lacked the resources, expertise and motivation to fight for his life.”
For Griffin, it’s more personal. Griffin’s dad coached Jones in basketball at John Marshall High School. In Griffin’s letter, he said Jones was “sentenced to death in a trial rife with error and failure”.
Young added to Griffin’s and Westbrook’s points in his letter, saying, “The many obvious ways that the justice system has failed them.”
“I hope this is a changing matter that will happen someday,” Young said at the protest in Norman Monday.
The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office released this statement regarding information in the case that they made public in 2018.
“In 2018, Jones’s defense filed a motion with Oklahoma County District Court, asking the judge to have the bandanna tested for his DNA in an attempt to prove his innocence. The state agreed to the DNA testing and the bandanna was sent to a lab chosen by the defense.
At the 1999 trial, an eyewitness testified that the shooter was wearing a red bandanna. Authorities, who searched Jones’ parents’ home found the murder weapon wrapped in a red bandanna.
The conclusive results of the DNA profile show the probability of the DNA belonging to someone other than Jones is one in 110 million African Americans.
Our responsibility as the attorneys for the state in the criminal appeals process is to follow the law with the overarching goal of always finding the truth in the appeals process. The lab results, which indicate that Julius Jones’s.”Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office
Each athlete’s letter went into further detail on the parts of the trial that caused them the most concern. KFOR reached out to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. We have not heard back at this time.