OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Supporters of Julius Jones gathered in Memorial Park Saturday to call for Jones to be given clemency by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.
Those at the rally heard speeches in favor of Jones and against the death penalty in any case.
The group then marched almost 40 blocks to the street in front of the Oklahoma County Annex where DA David Prater offices to protest his handling of the case for the last 20 years.
Prater’s most recent efforts in the Jones case involved his trying to get three members of the Pardon and Parole Board removed from hearing the case which were unsuccessful.
Jones is now on death watch in a cell next to the death chamber at the McAlister State Prison.
His clemency hearing, the last chance to avoid being put to death, is scheduled for October 26 before the Pardon and Parole Board.
Earlier, the board met and heard arguments in a commutation hearing for Jones that ended up recommending that Stitt commute Jones’ death sentence to life in prison.
Read our coverage of that hearing:
However, Stitt chose to ignore the board’s recommendation.
“I am not accepting the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation to commute the sentence of Julius Jones because a clemency hearing, not a commutation hearing, is the more appropriate venue for our state to consider death-row cases,” Stitt said.
Jones has been on death row for half of his life after being convicted in 2000 for the murder of Paul Howell, and Edmond resident.
Questions about the competence of the two public defenders who were out of their league defending Jones in a murder case and questions about testimony given by his alleged accomplice have endured for years.
Kimberli Morton was at the rally out of support for Jones and told Free Press that she believes Jones should not be on death row or even in prison.
“I looked into the story and did my research,” said Morton. “I just felt like he was innocent. Yeah, he’s innocent,” said Morton.
Against the death penalty
Free Press talked to two people at the rally who, aside from Jones’ case, are steadfastly against the death penalty for anyone.
“I am here because I oppose the death penalty in all cases innocent, guilty, whatever,” James England told us. “we don’t need the state to determine who lives and who dies.”
Oklahoma City Council member JoBeth Hamon attended the rally and march to oppose Jones’ death sentence.
“I wanted to show my support for the Justice for Julius group and what they’re trying to push for and just raising that awareness about this imminent deadline of his execution date and what they’re doing and in trying to stop the state from killing him,” said Hamon.
Hamon said that she was staunchly against the death sentence in any case. “It does not make sense,” Hamon said.
Several speeches were made at the rally encouraging those present to take heart and continue to fight for Julius Jones’ life to be spared by the Governor.
One local activist, Joshua Harris-Till, urged those who were present to use their phones right then to post on social media and “let people know that they supposed to be here in solidarity, that they should know about Julius a story that they should be fighting for justice for him do that now.”
Harris-Till said that the “collective power” of Jones’ supporters is significant in Stitt’s considerations about what to do with the Jones case.
“What we know is that there are people advising the governor right now on his political future, and saying, ‘this is what’s popular. And, this is what’s unpopular.’ We have to make it popular for Julius to come home for these politicians to believe what is true.”
The group also plans to hold a freedom vigil in McAlister Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at 1301 N. West Street, McAlister, Oklahoma, 74501. A caravan to the vigil from the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City begins at 12:45 p.m. Sunday.
Last Updated October 17, 2021, 12:48 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor