In a previous life, Julius Jones was a combo guard who turned down gives from small schools to play basketball and soccer according to ESPN and selected to attend the College of Oklahoma on an educational scholarship to the varsity’s Faculty of Engineering.
After finishing his freshman 12 months in 1998, he deliberate to walk on and join the basketball team in the fall of 1999. He by no means obtained the prospect, getting arrested three days after his nineteenth birthday, suspected and in the end convicted in 2002 of first-degree homicide for the killing of Edmond, Oklahoma businessman Paul Howell throughout a carjacking.
Practically 20 years later, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt granted Julius Jones clemency, commuting his demise sentence Thursday to life in jail with out the opportunity of parole, based on an executive order crammed the identical day.
The governor’s choice got here simply hours earlier than Jones was scheduled to be executed at 4 p.m CT after years of protests and public stress to commute his demise sentence.
In line with the Washington Post, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board twice really useful Jones’ sentence be commuted to life in jail with the opportunity of parole as not too long ago as November 1. The three-1 board vote gave Jones’ household, and supporters hope he could possibly be launched with time served. Nevertheless, since Stitt determined to reject the state’s Pardon and Parole boards suggestion, Jones will probably by no means get out of jail.
In his executive order, Stitt stated neither state structure nor state regulation provides the board the authority to advocate that commutation, nor do they provide the governor the ability to grant it. Because of this, the governor commuted Jones’ sentence with the situation that he “shall not be eligible to use for or be thought-about for a commutation, pardon, or parole for the rest of his life,” per the order.
Jones has maintained his innocence from demise row for greater than 20 years, saying he was framed by the precise killer, a highschool good friend, and a former co-defendant who was a key witness towards him. The Howel household reject Jones’ innocence outright, and together with the state Lawyer Basic’s Workplace, have disputed the proof cited by Jones and his supporters.
Jones served practically 20 years on demise row when his case gained renewed nationwide consideration in 2018, when an ABC documentary collection, “The Last Defense,” spotlighted his case.
Since then, greater than 6 million individuals have signed a Change.org petition asking Stitt to stop Jones’ execution as a result of scrutiny surrounding his conviction. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr tweeted out a video in help of Jones.
NBA stars with Oklahoma ties like Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Trae Young, and Buddy Hield have expressed help for Jones along with writing letters to the governor’s workplace. Every letter highlights a crucial difficulty that led to Jones’ conviction, racial bias, a flawed investigation, and an ill-equipped protection.
“[Jones’] conviction was tainted by a deeply flawed course of,” Westbrook, the previous face of the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder and present Laker, wrote in his letter. “As extra particulars come to gentle concerning his state of affairs, I be part of with many voices to specific disappointment and profound concern concerning his conviction and demise sentence.”
There was elevated scrutiny round questionable proof gathered and racial bias towards Jones, in addition to questions on Jones’ alibi that he was house the night time of the homicide. A purple bandana was discovered inside Jones’ fame house with the homicide weapon wrapped round it. There are additionally questions in regards to the DNA testing carried out on the protection’s request.
“You’re not given a good probability; you’re not given a good shake at life in that trial,” Blake Griffin informed ESPN. “Not to mention simply life typically rising up a minority in a predominantly white state. I hate to say that if he was white, it might be totally different, however there’s an opportunity.”