Oklahoma is set to execute its second murderer in four weeks as convicted murderer Julius Jones faces lethal injection later today. The Associated Press reports that celebrities and high school students gathered at the state capital to demand that Governor Kevin Stitt grant clemency. Jones has maintained his innocence for two decades and his case was profiled by a three-part CBS documentary produced by actress Viola Davis which suggested that an accomplice actually shot and killed businessman Paul Howell in front of his sister and two daughters on July 28, 1999. Following his conviction and sentence Jones claimed on habeas corpus, that a 2017 study finding that black murderers who killed white victims were more likely to be sentenced to death, suggesting that Jones, who is black, is facing execution because of his race and the race of his victim, who was white.
State and county prosecutors have said the evidence against Jones is overwhelming. Trial transcripts show witnesses identified Jones as the shooter and placed him with Howell’s stolen vehicle shortly after the murder. Investigators also found the murder weapon wrapped in a bandana with Jones’ DNA in an attic space above his bedroom. Jones claims the murder weapon was placed there by the actual killer, who visited Jones’ house after Howell was shot. The victim’s sister testified before the clemency board that she distinctly remembers seeing Jones shoot her brother in front of his two young daughters.
“He is the same person today as he was 22 years ago. He’s still getting into trouble. He’s still in a gang. He’s still lying. And he still feels no shame, guilt or remorse for his action,” Tobey said. “We need Julius Jones to be held responsible.”