Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Vote for Clemency for Man on Death Row

Julius Jones

By Mei Perez

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Julius Jones, convicted for killing Paul Howell, was recommended this week for commutation in a 3-1 vote by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board for a second time after additional evidence was presented upholding his innocence and multiple instances of prosecutorial misconduct throughout Jones’ trial.

Even after the first recommendation by the board Sept. 13, to reduce Jones’ death sentence to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals scheduled Jones’ execution for November 18, 2021, leading to statutory clemency proceedings.

Jones’ trial was riddled with racial bias, prosecutorial misconduct, and inexperienced defendant lawyers, leading to his conviction despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, according to his supporters.

In addition to being home with his family at the time of the homicide, Jones did not match the description of the shooter given by an eyewitness. Jones’ co-defendant Christopher Jordan did match the description, but worked out a deal with prosecutors to serve only 15 years in prison.

This deal with Jordan was hidden from the jury, and prosecutors actively lied, claiming that Jordan would spend at least 35 years in prison, and this is just one instance in which the prosecution “committed misconduct that corrupted the very framework within which Julius’s trial proceeded,” according to Jones’ clemency petition.

In addition to hiding the deal with Jordan, the prosecuting team used professional informants and failed to disclose the prior felony conviction of a white juror while disbarring black citizens from serving on the jury due to prior arrests, the clemency petition asserted.

Racial bias appeared to be a recurring theme throughout Jones’ trial, suggested the petition which included a statement from one the trial jurors who claims she reported to the bailiff that her fellow juror said, “They just need to take this n****r out and shoot him, and take him and bury him underneath the jail.”

In addition, the defense council representing Jones was “inexperienced, overwhelmed, and under-resourced,” Jones’ petition claimed, pointing out his head attorney had no prior experience with a death penalty case, while the second-chair attorney had only been practicing the law for a year and the third lawyer had just passed the bar exam.

Their combined inexperience, the clemency petition noted, led to a number of blunders, including never calling his family members to testify in court and confirm his alibi.

Defense counsel claimed it was too overwhelmed with their caseload to dedicate the proper amount of time to the trial, which was evident, said the petition, when the “defense did virtually no independent investigation.” Even though Jordan admitted to multiple inmates that he had been the one to kill the victim, none were called to testify in court.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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