Hundreds of scholars walked out of faculties and activists demonstrated exterior the governor’s workplace on Wednesday in a last try to influence Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma to grant clemency to a death-row inmate who’s scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
The inmate, Julius Jones, was convicted of first-degree homicide and sentenced to demise in 2002. He was accused of killing Paul Howell, who was in a automotive in the driveway of his dad and mom’ dwelling when he was carjacked and fatally shot in 1999.
Mr. Jones, 41, a former highschool basketball participant from Oklahoma City, was 19 on the time of the killing, which he says he didn’t commit. Mr. Howell, a businessman from the suburb of Edmond, was 45.
In September and once more this month, the state’s Pardon and Parole Board recommended that Mr. Jones’s sentence be commuted to life in jail with the potential of parole, a major step in a case that has garnered nationwide consideration, stated Cece Jones-Davis, who directs an Oklahoma-based marketing campaign known as Justice for Julius.
But Mr. Jones, his household and his supporters are nonetheless ready to listen to whether or not Mr. Stitt, a Republican, will settle for or reject the board’s suggestion, Ms. Jones-Davis stated. Mr. Jones is scheduled to be executed by deadly injection at four p.m. on Thursday.
“We are hoping and believing and trusting that the governor is still going to do the right thing,” Ms. Jones-Davis stated on Wednesday. “But we are coming down to the hour.”
The Oklahoma City Public Schools estimated that greater than 1,800 college students throughout 13 faculties participated in walkouts to help Mr. Jones on Wednesday. The district stated that it “supports our students’ rights to peaceful assembly and their freedom of expression.”
At the State House, scores of Mr. Jones’s supporters prayed, sang and chanted “free Julius Jones.” Madeline Davis-Jones, Mr. Jones’s mom, instructed the gang that her son was harmless.
“If my child is executed tomorrow, or any day, it should be without a doubt,” she said. “It shouldn’t be a doubt. Not even a little bit of doubt.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Stitt stated in an e mail: “We will not have any comments until after the governor has made a decision.”
If he’s executed, Mr. Jones could be the primary individual put to demise by the State of Oklahoma since John Marion Grant, who was convicted of murdering a jail cafeteria employee in 1998, was executed on Oct. 28.
Mr. Grant, 60, was the state’s first inmate to die by deadly injection since 2015, when Oklahoma stopped executions after utilizing the fallacious drug in one occasion and permitting a prisoner to regain consciousness in one other.
Mr. Grant vomited while shaking for a number of minutes in the course of the execution, which reporters who’ve witnessed executions known as extraordinarily uncommon in their expertise. But state jail officers stated a day after Mr. Grant’s execution that they did not plan to make any changes to the state’s deadly injection protocols.
“I will agree inmate Grant’s regurgitation was not pleasant to watch,” Scott Crow, the director of Oklahoma’s jail system, stated at a digital information convention on Oct. 29. “But I do not believe that it was inhumane.”
Mr. Jones, a Black man who has spent about half of his life in jail, has lengthy maintained his innocence.
“I did not kill Mr. Howell,” he wrote in a letter to the parole board in April, after he had exhausted his appeals. “I did not participate in any way in his murder; and the first time I saw him was on television when his death was reported.”
But relations of Mr. Howell, a white man whose sister and two daughters witnessed his killing, have rejected these claims and stated that the efforts to grant clemency to Mr. Jones have caused them pain.
“Our family continues to be victimized by Julius Jones and his lies,” Mr. Howell’s brother, Brian Howell, stated at a information convention in September.
Mr. Jones and his supporters have argued that his protection legal professionals failed him throughout his trial — for occasion, by neglecting to query members of the family who’ve stated that he was having dinner with them on the time of Mr. Howell’s killing — and that prosecutors relied too closely on the testimony of a co-defendant who stated that he had seen Mr. Jones commit the crime.
Mr. Jones’s supporters have additionally argued that racism performed a task in his trial and sentencing. African Americans make up a disproportionate number of death row prisoners in Oklahoma and in the United States, and research has shown that folks convicted of homicide are more likely to be executed if the one who was killed was white.
Mr. Jones’s enchantment for clemency has drawn help from outstanding figures in sports activities, politics and leisure.
Last month, Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Timothy Head, the chief director for the Faith & Freedom Coalition, wrote a letter to Mr. Stitt urging him to commute Mr. Jones’s sentence.
“We believe that doubt about Jones’s responsibility for the capital crime is not insignificant,” Mr. Schlapp and Mr. Head wrote.
On Wednesday, Baker Mayfield, a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, who gained the Heisman Trophy as a participant for the University of Oklahoma soccer group, additionally expressed hope that Mr. Jones wouldn’t be executed.
“We’re 24 hours away,” he told reporters. “So it’s tough. You know, hopefully God can intervene and handle it correctly and do the things he needs to do.”
Mr. Jones’s case has been featured in a 2018 documentary series produced by Viola Davis, a podcast episode final yr that includes Kim Kardashian West and a recent episode of “The Late Late Show With James Corden.”
“Julius, his family and everyone on his team are still hopeful Stitt will do the right thing,” Ms. Kardashian West wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Jacey Fortin contributed reporting.