- Julius Jones was sentenced to die in 2002 for the 1999 shooting death of Paul Howell.
- He recently filed a commutation application with Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board.
- At an in-depth review of his application, Jones will have chance to speak about his case.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board agreed to move forward with reviewing death row inmate Julius Jones’ commutation application on Monday.
Jones, 40, has been on death row since 2002, when he was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1999 fatal shooting of Paul Howell, a businessman from Edmond, Oklahoma.
At his commutation application review later this year, Jones will have an opportunity to speak about his case for the first time, Jones’ lawyer, Dale Baich, confirmed to Insider.
Baich said Jones will appear by video to speak in front of the Pardon and Parole Board, though an exact date for the hearing has yet to be scheduled.
“This is a chance for Julius to appear before a fair and impartial board so he can fully tell his story and make his case,” Baich told Insider. “I am confident that by simply presenting the facts, the board will have no choice but to conclude – as I have and millions of people in Oklahoma and all across the world have concluded – that Julius is innocent and must be released.”
The upcoming hearing is the second phase of the commutation application process for Jones.
The Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 on Monday to move forward with phase two of the process.
Following the hearing, the board will decide whether or not they will recommend Jones’ sentence be commuted to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has the final say over the decision.
Over the last year, Jones has garnered support from celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, NBA players Russell Westbrook and Trae Young, and NFL player Baker Mayfield. Kardashian West visited Jones in jail last year.
Jones, who was a 19-year-old student when he was arrested for the murder of Howell, has maintained his innocence throughout the last two decades.
Prosecutors said at the time of the murder that Jones robbed Howell of his SUV in front of his two daughters in his parents’ driveway. During the robbery, Howell was fatally shot in the head.
Jones’ family has said he was at home eating dinner at the time of the murder, according to the City Sentinel, and Baich has said the case was riddled with inconsistencies, including DNA found on a bandana at the scene he says doesn’t constitute a match, per legal standards.
He released a video and letter on Monday saying a man named Roderick Wesley, who served time with Jones’ co-defendant Christopher Jordan, said Jordan told him he actually killed Howell and framed Jones for the crime.
Wesley is the third person to come forward and say Jordan confessed to killing Howell, according to the City-Sentinel.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, has urged the Pardon and Parole Board to keep Jones on death row.
“To this day, Jones has not expressed an ounce of remorse for his callous actions,” Prater wrote in the letter seen by the Associated Press. “Instead, he continues to victimize the Howell family by fueling a media circus with outright lies and by making a farce of this clemency process.”
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater also accused Jones’ legal team of engaging in a “coordinated and alarmingly successful campaign of misinformation, spurred by media frenzy, which is specifically targeted to manipulate and mislead the public through dissemination of half-truths and, frequently, outright lies.”
Jones has exhausted all of his appeals during his nearly two decades in prison, but Oklahoma has not yet set a date for his execution due to an ongoing review of the state’s lethal-injection protocols.
Baich previously called the Jones’ sentence a “miscarriage of justice” in a statement to Insider, and accused Prater of failing to address “new evidence we put forward that supports Julius’ application.”
“We now have multiple letters, videos and sworn affidavits of people who say that Christopher Jordan admitted to killing Mr. Howell and to framing Julius. No reasonable person could see this new evidence and conclude that Julius is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.