At the time of the crime for which he was convicted, Julius was a student athlete with a promising future, attending the University of Oklahoma on an academic scholarship. In the summer of 1999, three days after his 19th birthday, Jones was the number one suspect in the killing of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. He was tried and convicted with murder, and sentenced to be put to death by the state of Oklahoma.
20 Years on death row
Julius has lived on death row for almost 20 years, and is held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. He is allowed one hour of sunlight (while he is bound in shackles), and three showers a week. He is allowed no physical contact with visitors, not even his family. From the time of his arrest, Julius has maintained his innocence.
Justice for Julius Jones screening with CJO on Sunday, February 2 with Jones’s family and worship leader and social advocate Cece Jones-Davis. Sign the Change.org petition created by Cece.
Compelling evidence of wrongful conviction
Eyewitnesses place Mr. Jones at his parents’ home at the time of the murder, miles away from the crime scene. Mr. Jones’ co-defendant fit an eyewitness’s description of the shooter, while Mr. Jones did not. His co-defendant was the state’s key witness against him, and the prosecution repeatedly told jurors at Mr. Jones’ trial that his co-defendant would serve a 30-year sentence in exchange for his testimony. However, after pleading guilty to the crime, Mr. Jones’ co-defendant was released after only 15 years and is now a free man.
Julius’ case is riddled with odious racial discrimination—including a police officer’s use of a racial slur during Mr. Jones’ arrest, the State’s removal of all prospective black jurors except one, and evidence showing that a juror used the n-word before jury deliberations at the sentencing phase.
Racial Prejudice in our Criminal Justice System
The U.S. Supreme Court has made unequivocally clear that our criminal justice system cannot tolerate such blatant examples of racial prejudice on the part of even a single juror. In this way and many others, Mr. Jones’ rights under the state and federal constitutions have been violated and his conviction and death sentence should be overturned.
No executions have been performed in Oklahoma since January 2015 after a botched attempt with lethal injection saw a prisoner suffer an agonizing death. The moratorium was lifted in March 2018 and it was announced that Oklahoma would use inert gas inhalation as the primary method for death penalty executions. Lethal injection, electrocution, and firing squads would be used in that order in the event that inert gas is unavailable.
Call for Clemency
On October 15, 2019, Julius filed a clemency petition with the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. Under Oklahoma law, a prisoner is only allowed to ask for the sentence to be commuted. A Pardon can only be requested when the person is released from custody. Julius is asking for his death sentence to be commuted to time served.
Faith leaders in Oklahoma City have been hosting public meetings and discussions about Julius’ case.
Demand Justice for Julius
Date: Sunday, February 2nd
Time: 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Location: All Souls Church, 2952 S Peoria Ave, Tulsa, OK 74114. Emerson Hall.
Speaking at this event will be Julius Jones’ family, and Cece Jones-Davis, an advocate who created Justice for Julius, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness on Jones’ case. Jones-Davis was inspired by ABC’s The Last Defense, a three-part docu-series produced by Viola Davis. We will screen an edited version of the documentary, and then have time for questions and discussion.
The All Souls Criminal Justice Outreach team CJO seeks to care for those impacted by incarceration, to educate the community about criminal justice issues, and cultivate equitable reforms in Oklahoma’s Criminal Justice System. Please reach out via email or join our Facebook group if you’d like to join CJO or have questions.
Carlos Moreno is the co-chair of All Souls Criminal Justice Outreach and is an advocate for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma. Read more from him about CJO’s work in Poetic Justice and Prison and The Biology of Toxic Stress on beyondbelief.online.