OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Students at high schools across Oklahoma City walked out of their classes. Prayer vigils were held at the state Capitol, and barricades were erected outside the governor’s mansion. Even Baker Mayfield, quarterback for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, weighed in on Oklahoma’s highest-profile execution in decades.
Julius Jones, 41The man who has maintained his innocence over more than 20 years is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday Paul Howell was killed in 1999 at McAlester State Penitentiary. Howell is a Oklahoma City businessman who lived in Edmond.
Mayfield is a Heisman Trophy Winner from the University of Oklahoma. among several high-profile athletes and entertainers who have weighed in on Jones’ case, urging Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt should be commuted and his life spared.
“Yeah, it’s pretty rough, to be honest with you,” Mayfield said Wednesday, pausing and his eyes filling with tears. “That’s not something that’s easy to talk about. For a long time, I have been trying to uncover the truth.
“It’s a shame that it’s gotten this far, 24 hours away.”
Stitt has been tight-lipped about the case, but has met with Jones’ attorneys and Howell’s family.
Jones’ mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, who tried unsuccessfully to meet with Stitt on Monday, spoke to a group of about 300 people, many of them students from nearby high schools, who gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday outside of Stitt’s office, chanted and sang hymns.
“I don’t want to go to a lynching tomorrow,” Davis-Jones said, her voice rising with emotion. “Why would I want to see someone hang? That should stop. Do you want your baby, your child to be hanged?”
Jones claims he was set up by his real killer. He was actually a friend from high school and co-defendant. Jones was then released after 15 years.
Both county and state prosecutors claim that the evidence against Jones has been overwhelming. Trial transcripts show witnesses identified Jones as the shooter and placed him with Howell’s stolen vehicle. Investigators found the weapon of murder wrapped in paper. bandana with Jones’ DNAHe found the murder weapon in an attic area above his bedroom. Jones claims the murder weapon was placed there by the actual killer, who visited Jones’ house after Howell was shot.
The state’s Pardon and Parole Board twice voted 3-1 to recommend Stitt grant clemencyJones, and include a commute of Jones’s sentence to life imprisonment
Stitt spokesman Charlie Hannema said “the governor takes his role in this process seriously and is carefully considering the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation as he does in all cases.”
Paul Howell’s sister, Megan Tobey, testified before the board that she distinctly remembers seeing Jones shoot her brother in front of his two young daughters.
“He is the same person today as he was 22 years ago. He’s still getting into trouble. He’s still in a gang. He’s still lying. And he still feels no shame, guilt or remorse for his action,” Tobey said. “We need Julius Jones to be held responsible.”
On Wednesday, there was a second vote. same board voted 3-2 to grant clemency to another death row inmate, Bigler Stouffer, citing concerns with the state’s lethal injection protocols. Stouffer will die Dec. 9.
Jones’ case was profiled in “The Last Defense,” a three-episode documentary produced by actress Viola Davis that aired on ABC in 2018. Since then, Kim Kardashian West and athletes with Oklahoma ties, including Mayfield and NBA stars Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Trae Young, have urged Stitt to commute Jones’ death sentence.
Oklahoma ended a six-year moratorium on executions — brought on by concerns over its lethal injection methods — last month. John Marion Grant, 60, convulsed and vomitedHe was being executed on Oct. 28.
Grant was executed in Oklahoma for the first time since 1886. series of flawed lethal injectionsIn 2014 and 2015, there was a de facto moratorium. Richard Glossip, who was about to be executed on September 15, 2015, when prison officials realized that they were in violation of the moratorium. received the wrong lethal drug. Later, it was discovered that the exact same drug used in execution of an inmate on January 2015 had also been used.
Following a drug mixture-up, botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state’s prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.