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Having now spent more of his life as a prisoner than as a free man, Oklahoma death row inmate Julius Jones, who was convicted at age 19 for a murder millions across the country believe he didn’t commit, turned 41 years old on July 25.
Starting with the docuseries “The Last Defense” in 2018, directed by Amani Martin and produced by Viola Davis, fresh facts began to surface illustrating Jones’ ineffective council, a racist juror, and a refusal to allow relatives to testify to Jones’ allibi during the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell.
Justice for Julius
Since then, family friend Cece Jones-Davis launched the Justice for Julius campaign, gaining over 6 millions signatures of ardent supporters petitioning for his release, from civil rights activists and attorneys to social justice-minded celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
Despite the conviction, former OU student Julius Jones and his family have maintained his innocence for over two decades, never changing their story and continuing to demand justice for his imprisonment. With a commutation hearing set for September 13, 2021, Julius Jones and his family hope to finally see justice served and a wrongful conviction overturned.
Family fights for justice
Julius Jones’ sister, Antoinette, has been an especially vigorous advocate for her brother.
“I thank and praise God that Julius has been given a chance to be heard in September,” Antoinette recently told the OU Daily. “We are blessed to have board members that see humans that are incarcerated and not numbers and file folders.”
The Black Wall Street Times previously highlighted the racial disparities involved in Oklahoma’s sentencing of death row inmates.
In Oklahoma, state prosecutors are more likely to call for the death penalty in a crime where the victim is White and less likely to call for it in when the victim is an ethnic minority, according to a 2017 report from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.
While former Attorney General MIke Hunter and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater have made it clear they don’t want to review new evidence in Jones’ case, the upcoming September commutation hearing has given supporters reason to celebrate.
Supporters celebrate Julius Jones’ 41st birthday
“Happy Birthday to Julius Jones, an innocent Black man on Oklahoma’s death row,” Kim Kardashian wrote on Facebook. She’s been a public advocate for Jones over the last few years.
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, who established the Terrence Crutcher Foundation following the police lynching of her own brother at the hands of former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, also wished Jones a happy birthday and encouraged people to support financially.
“Today is Julius Jones 41st Birthday! He’s been on Oklahoma’s death row for 22 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Help us continue the fight for his life by donating $22 today. Thank you in advance! Happy Birthday Julius!!” Dr. Crutcher posted.
Moreover, civil and human rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, who represents various families of victims of police violence and the three last known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, also joined in on the celebration of the life of Julius Jones in a Facebook post.
Speaking with the OU Daily, Antoinette Jones said the campaign prays every Tuesday night, and people can register at prayersforjulius.com to receive the Zoom link.
“He’s spent more birthdays inside prison than he has with his family. We need your help to make sure Julius spends his next birthday a free man. Make a donation right now to help fund the fight to free Julius Darius Jones,” she said in a social media video.
Supporters interested in wishing Jones a happy birthday and donating to the fight for his freedom can visit this website, here.