In September 2021, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board held a hearing on the case of Julius Jones, a black man who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. The Council voted 3-1 to recommend life with the possibility of parole for Jones, but prosecutors who disagree with this decision are now trying to prevent justice and leave Jones’ sentence unchanged.
Julius Jones, a black resident of Oklahoma, was charged in 1999 with a crime he did not commit. According to investigators, almost 20 years ago, 19-year-old Jones killed a man, for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. After spending almost two decades in prison, the sentence is due to be carried out on November 18, 2021, however, in September of this year, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board held a meeting at which it was decided to change the measure of restraint to a life with the possibility of parole. Now the decision on the high-profile case must be made by the governor of Oklahoma, who, according to the Foundation’s human rights defenders, entered into a criminal conspiracy together with the Oklahoma County District Attorney and the Attorney General, doing everything possible to carry out the death sentence.
For several months, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, together with Attorney General John O’Connor, who was appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma, and later American Bar Association rated Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor “unqualified”, tried to remove from voting the members of the Council who voted for changing the preventive measure. Law enforcement officials filed a request for removal to the State Supreme Court, considers their participation a conflict of interest. It is worth noting that Richard Smothermon, the only member of the committee who voted against changing the preventive measure, previously held the position of district attorney and collaborated with Prater.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected requests for the removal of council members, leaving their decision unchanged. Now the fate of Jones, whose petition in support of which has gained more than 6 million signatures on the Internet, is in the hands of the governor of the state, who must make his final decision.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice is following the development of the case of Julius Jones and condemns any attempts by officials pursuing personal motives to interfere in the fate of an innocently convicted black man who faces the death penalty.