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After maintaining his innocence for more than twenty years while on Oklahoma’s death row, Julius Jones will finally receive his first commutation hearing with the Pardon and Parole Board in March.
The state sentenced Jones to death in the 1999 murder of an Edmond man. After documentaries re-examined his case, millions of supporters got involved. Now, they anxiously wait for his chance at freedom.
ABC’s The Last Defence revealed to the nation the errors in his case, such as potentially racist jurors, inadequate counsel, and lack of evidence tying Jones to the crime. His family has maintained his innocence for more than two decades. They say that Jones, a college student at the time, was at home playing board games during the murder. They were never allowed to speak at the trial.
Pardon and Parole Board moves Julius Jones to stage 1 commutation docket
Recently, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board listed Julius Jones as one of the hundreds of names set to be heard on the March 2021 stage 1 commutation docket, according to the state website.
The board’s director recently explained to local media that requests for commutation involve a two-step process. First, the board performs an overview of the case to determine whether it should move on to the second stage. If selected to move forward, the board would then either deny the request or suggest a commuted sentence. Ultimately, the Governor would then have the power to honor that suggestion.
Cece Jones-Davis is a family friend and founder of the Justice for Julius Coalition. She and her team have been fully committed to freeing Jones from day one. They’ve even gained support from celebrities and athletes. “There are a few people that can make a very important decision about this man. He doesn’t have any other option,” Jones-Davis told News9.
6 million signatures delivered to the parole board
The interview came a day before supporters for Julius hand-delivered over 6 million signatures to the Pardon and Parole Board’s offices, calling for his release. On Thursday, groups marched to the board’s downtown office. OKC rapper and activist Jabee Williams, Black Lives Matter, and the Justice for Julius Coalition were among those leading the event. They delivered the signatures and prayed for a victorious response.
It’s been over a year since the Jones family put in a request to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. And the urgency can’t be understated. Last Summer, Oklahoma’s Attorney General seemed eager to shed more blood. He announced that the state would be ready to resume executions in the Spring of 2021. Oklahoma hasn’t had an execution since 2015 when officials repeatedly mishandled them. One man was given the wrong drug and stayed in excruciating pain for nearly an hour before he finally died of a heart attack.
The state ironically now claims to be able to administer executions “humanely.” But supporters of Julius Jones are doing everything they can to make sure it never comes to that.
Last weekend, Kim Kardashian, an avid Julius Jones supporter who’s helped to elevate his case on the national stage, visited the family in Oklahoma City, according to reports.
New evidence points to the co-defendant as the actual killer
Even Attorney General Mike Hunter, who we previously reported wanted Jones to die quietly, has now acknowledged that the Governor has the power to release Jones. Reports have even come out that Jones’s co-defendant admitted to committing the murder and let Jones take the fall.
After seeing a documentary about Julius Jones, Arkansas inmate Roderick Wesley claims that he recognized co-defendant Christopher Jordan. Wesley said he recalled a conversation in which Jordan remorsefully admitted to the killing. Wesley, who supposedly had contact with Jordan during an interstate prison transfer, signed an affidavit declaring Jordan told him Jones innocent and that Jordan was the real killer, according to a recent report from The Frontier.
Finally, after two decades, Julius Jones may finally get justice. The Pardon and Parole Board expects to look at Jones’ case in the first stage on March 8.