Says Convicted Killer Had Day in Court, Convicted
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter complained that advocates for convicted murderer Julius Jones have manipulated the facts of his case to mislead the public.
He said the advocates are working to get the convicted man off death row and out of prison entirely.
The attorney general said he was speaking out on behalf of murder victim Paul Howell and his family.
“The pain of their loss is revisited with each misguided public appeal on Mr. Jones’ behalf,” he said of the family. “Julius Jones had his day in court, numerous times.”
Mr. Jones, 39, is facing execution for the 1999 fatal shooting of the Edmond insurance executive during a carjacking. Jurors chose the death penalty as punishment at a 2002 trial.
The victim was gunned down in his parents’ driveway in Edmond after a back-to-school shopping trip with his daughters.
The victim’s 1997 Suburban was stolen.
Mr. Jones always has insisted he is innocent.
He received widespread support for his innocence claim after ABC in 2018 aired the documentary series, “The Last Defense,” about the Jones case.
Mr. Jones is now seeking commutation of his death sentence.
Prominent athletes including Russell Westbrook, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian West including Kim Kardashian West have urged Gov. Kevin Stitt to grant Jones’ clemency.
Joining them last month was Baker Mayfield, the former Oklahoma quarterback, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns.
“I care deeply for Oklahoma,” Mayfield wrote. “And that is why I am eagerly writing in support of Julius Jones, a young man I believe has been wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death.”
Earlier, Attorney General Hunter advised the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board that it can recommend commutation of death row inmates to the governor. He said he spoke to the Howell family about that advice and was moved by the conversation.
“Paul was a wonderful person who shouldn’t have lost his life,” the state attorney general said.
The attorney general asked Jones advocates to be responsible in their efforts.
“There is a good deal of misinformation out there that we’re dealing with,” he said. “I can’t count the number of e-mails I’ve gotten from folks who have been told certain things that I think are not consistent with the evidence at trial and with the facts,” he said at a news conference.
“I’m not trying to question anybody’s heart,” he said. “We’ve heard from a lot of celebrities. I know that they believe they’re doing the right thing based on what they’ve been told. I’m just not sure that they’ve been told the right things consistently.”
The attorney general released a 12-page summary of the evidence against Mr. Jones and highlighted some of the evidence.
The attorney general pointed out, for instance, that the murder weapon was found wrapped in a red bandana hidden in the attic space above the ceiling of the closet of Mr. Jones’ room at his parents’ house.
Also, he noted that a test on DNA on the bandana—done at the request of the defense–found in 2018 that it matched Mr. Jones’ DNA.
The probability of the DNA belonging to someone other than Mr. Jones was 1 in 110 million, he said.
The attorney general said that the public needs to know about Mr. Jones’ other violent brushes with the law, including the armed robbery of a jewelry store.
Attorney General Hunter said Mr. Jones pleaded guilty to a robbery that involved a carjacking outside a Hideaway the week before the fatal shooting.
An attorney for Jones criticized the attorney general’s remarks.
“The attorney general’s allegations that Julius was a violent criminal as a youth are just that: allegations,” said Dale Baich, an assistant public defender.
“Moreover, these are the same allegations of uncharged and unproved conduct that the prosecution paraded before Julius’ jury 20 ago to argue that he deserved to die.”
Mr. Baich suggested the remarks resemble “the all-too familiar pattern of state actors disparaging the characters of Black victims of systemic racism and inequality to detract from, if not legitimize, what happened to them.”
Also commenting after the news conference were Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma NAACP, the ACLU of Oklahoma and Mr. Jones’ mother.
Speaking at a church, the mother, Madeline Davis Jones, repeated her claim her son was home the night of the shooting.
She said the family played Monopoly together and ate spaghetti for dinner.
“We often hear that Julius’ death sentence is about ‘justice’ or ‘closure,’ ” Mrs. Jones said.
“This cannot be true, however, because we know Mr. Howell’s real killer is still out there.
“Nothing is ‘just’ about executing our boy, who spent one of his last nights as a free man with his family playing board games.
“His death will not provide closure or healing. Only the truth can do that.”