Oklahoma: Julius Jones facing execution today despite parole board clemency recommendations, Pastor says “we will exhibit our faith”
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Death row inmate Julius Jones faces execution today unless Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt follows parole board recommendations to grant clemency and commute his sentence to life imprisonment, AP reports. The Oklahoma Pardons and Parole board has twice voted for clemency, saying there are doubts about the evidence that led to Jones’ conviction for the 1999 shooting of Oklahoma businessman Paul Howell.
On death row for two decades since the age of 20, Jones has admitted to criminal activity as a young man, but has denied committing acts of violence and has maintained he is innocent of the carjack shooting that killed Howell. Jones says he was framed by the actual killer, a high school friend, and a former co-defendant who was a key prosecution witness, AP reports. However, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater and former state Attorney General Mike Hunter said the evidence against Jones is overwhelming.
Jones’s case has received widespread media and public attention, with marches for justice and prayer vigils being organized, and with high-profile celebrities calling for his release, AP reports. In 2018 ABC aired a documentary about the case produced by actress Viola Davis; after that, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, and athletes including NBA stars Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, and Trae Young, all asked Stitt to commute Jones’ death sentence. Millions of people across the US have signed a petition asking for Jones’ life to be spared.
In a statement to The Oklahoman this week, Jones’ pastor, the Rev. Keith Jossell of Fifth Street Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, said he had not expected to have to prepare his charge for entry to the execution chamber after the parole board’s recommendation. With just hours to go before the scheduled execution, and still no word from Stitt, Jossell said the waiting and preparation was an ordeal even for him. “With my left brain, I have to prepare as if Thursday is going to occur. My right brain is telling me it’s not going to happen, so my body is at war with itself right now,” Jossell said.
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