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Justice for Julius Jones – Thursday at 4:00 PM

Time is running out for Governor Stitt to make his decision whether or not to commute the death sentence of Julius Jones. The Pardon & Parole Board has voted to recommend that Stitt commute Jones’s sentence and spare him from getting the needle.

Jones was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell during a carjacking. Jones shot Paul Howell in the head in front of his sister and his daughters in order to steal his vehicle. After exhausting all his appeals, his execution is set for tomorrow, November 18th, at 4:00 PM.

Celebrities, media people, and politicians alike have voiced their support for Julius Jones getting clemency, claiming either outright innocence or that the conviction is dubious enough to cast doubt upon his guilt. I saw a petition on supporting Jones that was signed by several million people, urging Governor Stitt to spare Jones from getting the needle tomorrow afternoon. Probably more than 99% of the people who signed that petition don’t even know what the facts of the case are.

The big question everyone is waiting to see answered is whether or not Governor Stitt will save Jones. But that isn’t the question I am waiting to see answered. The question I want to be answered is does Governor Stitt have the guts to do the right thing and let the execution proceed, despite all the pressure on him to commute Jones’s sentence?

Julius Jones is guilty. There is no doubt at all. Anyone trying to say otherwise or cast doubt upon his conviction is either an ignorant, uninformed fool or a blatant liar. Let’s look at the main arguments people are using to argue for saving Jones.

  1. His alibi. The claim is that Julius Jones was at home with his parents having dinner at the time of the murder and that his legal team failed to present this alibi at his original trial. The truth is that his attorneys knew about this alleged alibi and they also knew it was not true. Jones himself had told his attorneys that his parents were mistaken and he was not at home the night of the murder. His attorneys did not put anyone on the stand to give his false alibi because doing so would be suborning perjury.
  2. The DNA. For years, Jones and his supporters claimed that a DNA test would exonerate him. There was a red bandana found in Jones’ bedroom that had a gun wrapped in it. The bandana was worn by the shooter, according to an eyewitness. The gun was later identified through ballistics as the murder weapon. Jones and his supporters claim the bandana was planted there by someone else and that a DNA test would prove he hadn’t worn the bandana. Earlier this year, the state agreed to a defense motion to have the bandana sent for DNA testing to a lab chosen by the defense. The conclusive results of the DNA profile on the bandana show the probability of the DNA belonging to someone other than Jones is 1 in 110 million black people. The current black population of the entire country is roughly 47 million. So much for the DNA claim.
  3. His hair. Jones and his supporters claim that the eye-witness description of the shooter’s hair didn’t match Jones. They claim the description matched another man, who wore his hair in cornrows. The truth is that the eyewitness testimony is being deliberately misquoted. Paul Howell’s sister testified in court that she could see a small amount of hair showing between the top of his ear and his stocking cap. She denied seeing cornrows. That was the same description she gave to the police and that is what she testified to in court. Her description has never changed at all. Her description of the shooter’s hair has always matched Jones.
  4. Jones says he wasn’t given the chance to testify in court. The truth is in the trial transcript. The trial judge specifically asked Jones if he wanted to testify in his own defense. He said NO. He affirmed this decision to the judge FOUR TIMES.
  5. Jones claims a juror made a racial comment about him. The truth is that during the trial, a juror notified the trial judge of a comment overheard by another juror, but it was not reported as racially related. This claim about a racist juror was one of the issues brought up when appealing the conviction and it was denied a U.S. Supreme Court review in 2019 as being baseless.
  6. Jones has been described as an outstanding student at the University of Oklahoma and some even say he was involved in sports at the university. The truth is he was never on any athletic team at OU at all and was not enrolled as a student at the time of the murder. After the Fall 1998 semester, he had been placed on probation and left OU after that.
  7. Jones has claimed he had ineffective counsel. The truth is that everyone sentenced to death claims this. Jones’s assertion that he had ineffective counsel was appealed again and again and again. At all appeals and evidentiary hearings, the courts ruled that his counsel made informed decisions and used reasonable legal strategies in their representation of Jones. 
  8. Jones said he had not been involved in any violent criminal activity. The truth is that he pled guilty to a robbery with a firearm that took place just six days prior to the murder. He had also been involved in an additional armed carjacking and attempted kidnapping.

Everything that Jones and his supporters are claiming as supposed evidence of an incorrect verdict is just pure rubbish and lies. 

Now, about the Pardon and Parole Board. This group is now nothing but a feelings-oriented social gathering. Just today, they voted 3-2 to recommend clemency for convicted murderer Bigler Stouffer, a man they all agree is guilty, who they believe is lying about being innocent, and who they do not believe is repentant. They voted for clemency for him because at least four of the members of the board have ‘concerns’ about how Oklahoma conducts executions. The board is basically using clemency hearings to voice their opposition to the death penalty in Oklahoma. That is a political statement that has absolutely no place in a clemency hearing for a convicted and unrepentant murderer. For that reason alone, Governor Stitt should ignore everything this board recommends and allow justice to take its course, that being the execution of these murderers as sentenced by a jury of their peers.

Governor Stitt has shown that he has the backbone to stand up against political pressure, declining to implement a statewide mask mandate earlier this year when a lot of politicians and citizens were repeatedly pressuring him to do so. 

Will he have the backbone to ignore the political pressure again and do the right thing with Julius Jones? I am sure he is not taking this decision lightly. As I write this, there are less than seventeen hours remaining before the scheduled execution time. With so much overwhelming and undeniable evidence against Julius Jones, I will be very disappointed in Governor Stitt if he caves to the pressure to save Julius Jones from the sentence he deserves. 

Update 11/18/2021 12:38 PM – Governor Stitt has commuted the sentence for Julius Jones to life without the possibility of parole. You can read the press release here

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