5 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The supporters of Julius Jones, who is on death row and scheduled for execution Thursday, gathered across the street from the Governor’s mansion Saturday evening. They made yet another public appeal for Governor Kevin Stitt to stop his execution.

The event started with prayer. And, as Jones’ spiritual advisor said, they were praying for “a miracle at midnight” before execution day.

The demeanor of crowds at recent rallies for Julius Jones has been somber. And the larger-than-usual crowd at the Saturday evening event was even more serious.

Julius Jones
The crowd for the Julius Jones rally 11-13-21 in the parking lot of the Oklahoma History Center across the street from the Governor’s mansion. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)


At the Saturday rally, Jone’s spiritual advisor, Minister Keith Jossell, spoke first after leading the crowd in prayer for Jones and for the Governor to have mercy on Jones.

“I’m here today to set the record straight,” said Jossell. “Governor Kevin Stitt is not rendering judgment on Julius Darius Jones. Governor Kevin Stitt is making a decision, and God is rendering a judgment against the governor of this state and the state of Oklahoma.”

He said that in the Christian Gospel of Matthew 7:1, Jesus says “do not judge, lest ye shall be judged.” Jossell said that the next verse is the one that is often ignored which says that we will be judged as we judge others.

He connected the text to the Governor’s decision about whether or not to spare Jones’ life.

“So, Governor Stitt, if you use the standard of justice and mercy and compassion against Julius Jones, then the standard of justice, mercy, and compassion will be used against you. If you use justice and mercy and compassion against the Jones family, then Governor Stitt justice, mercy and compassion will also be meted out to your family.”

Then, Jossell went on with the application of the Gospel text.

“But, Governor Stitt, if you choose injustice. If you choose indifference to black and brown bodies. If you choose to ignore the evidence that’s been presented and recommended to you by the Pardon and Parole Board, not once but twice, then Governor Stitt, the judgment that you render against Julius Darius Jones and his family will also be against you and yours, according to the Word of God.”

‘Justice and healing’

“We want justice and healing for all Oklahomans,” said Jones’s legal team member Kelli Masters. “The family deserves justice and healing. too. But executing an innocent man does not bring justice and it does not bring healing.”

Representative Jason Lowe, HD-97, is a defense attorney and gave one of the most emotion-filled speeches this reporter has seen him give. He argued that the conviction of Julius Jones happened after poor representation from young public defenders just out of law school.

“I know the defense attorneys, the public defenders, who represented Julius Jones almost 20 years ago and they had no right to represent Julius Jones,” said Lowe. “They had no right! They did not know exactly what they were doing!”

Lowe continued, “I’ve been handling cases for 15 years and I’ve never handled a death penalty case. Just imagine public defenders that just graduated out of law school, representing a man on a death penalty case.”

Julius Jones
Representative Mauree Turner, HD-88, claps in response to a speaker during the Julius Jones rally 11-13-21. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Nineteen years

Jones has been on death row for 19 years for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell. Jones has insisted all along that he did not murder Howell. His co-defendant in the trial has confessed to a cellmate that Jones wasn’t the one who murdered Howell.

The defense team from the Public Defenders office were inexperienced and made several large blunders during the trial which supporters of Jones point to as yet another reason why the death penalty for Jones is extreme.

Julius Jones
Julius Jones OKDOC photo from 2011

But, the DA’s office and family of Paul Howell continue to insist that Jones is the one who committed the murder.

In September, the Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend to Governor Stitt that he commute the death sentence to life with the possibility of parole.

Stitt refused to follow the board’s guidance and the execution date was set for Thursday, November 18.

Jones’ execution is one of seven scheduled after they were stopped in 2015 by then-Governor Mary Fallin after the 43-minute execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014. Questions arose about the three-drug cocktail used that had produced some of the same effects during executions in other states.

The first this year was that of John Marion Grant who execution concluded after a time on the gurney throwing up and convulsing from the same three-drug cocktail that had produced similar results in Clayton Lockett’s execution.

Last Updated November 14, 2021, 11:52 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor