By Connie Ellison, Paul Howell’s girlfriend at the time of his murder
Paul Howell’s murder occurred twenty-two years ago. His death devastated his family, his friends, and his community. I knew Paul for over seven years, and we had an especially close relationship during the last seven months of his life. His sudden death broke me.
Two days after the shooting, and after interviewing Christopher Jordan, the co-defendant in the case who told them that Julius was the shooter, the police arrested Julius Jones for Paul’s murder.
Before the trial, I listened to the prosecutors when they met with us and believed and trusted what they said. I sat in Bob Macy’s office when he stated that he would pursue the death penalty. I didn’t ask questions then because I had no idea what questions to ask.
Today, however, I have many questions.
JULIUS JONES POISED FOR SEPT 13 COMMUTATION HEARING AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY TRIES TO BLOCK PAROLE BOARD MEMBERS.
I question the quickness with which Julius was arrested and accused, how and why the prosecution could decide so quickly that Julius was the shooter, the absence of any true forensic evidence, the fact that the prosecution’s case relied mainly on informants who received plea deals in exchange for their testimony, and why Christopher Jordan, the prosecution’s star witness, only served 15 years after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.
In the beginning, I was happy that Julius’ defense team was ill-prepared for their first capital murder case. I desperately wanted Paul’s murderer to be convicted, but as the trial proceeded, an uneasiness grew within me.
Was Julius really the murderer? I wondered. And what if he wasn’t? Would an innocent man be sent to death row and eventually executed?
I didn’t discuss my doubts with anyone at that time, but now, twenty-two years later, after researching the case for years and dissecting almost every document in the public record, I feel compelled to reveal my doubts.
A lot has happened since 1999. There are now multiple men who say that Christopher Jordan has openly and repeatedly confessed to murdering Paul.
One man, who served time in Arkansas with Christopher Jordan and who has no ties to Oklahoma, to the prosecution or the defense, voluntarily contacted Julius’ defense team to reveal that Jordan told him that he was, in fact, the murderer. The Arkansas inmate had absolutely nothing to gain by speaking out.
I pray the members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board listen carefully to this new evidence and take their responsibility to dispense true justice seriously.
Paul Howell was a beautiful man: larger than life, kind, generous, compassionate, deeply loved and respected by those who knew him. He should still be alive today, continuing to bless us all with his presence.
But someone shot and killed Paul and I question if the wrong person has been sitting on death row all these years. I know, without doubt, that Paul would not want an innocent man to be executed for his murder.
And neither do I.