As it happenedended1635804364

Julius Jones hearing: ‘I feel good all over’ mother of death row inmate says as clemency recommended

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
,Josh Marcus
Monday 01 November 2021 22:06
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Related video: Biden through the years: The death penalty

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended 3-to-1 on Monday that Julius Jones’s upcoming execution be stopped.

The high-profile inmate, set to be killed on 18 November, should instead get a life sentence with the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 1999 murder of Oklahoma City businessman Paul Howell, the board concluded.

Jones has maintained for years he did not murder Mr Howell, while the Howell family insists that police and a succession of trials and appeals courts correctly determined that Jones was the killer.

“Ordinarily during a parole hearing, we are charged with the responsibility of giving the inmates some choices about their future,” board member Larry Morris said, as the panel announced its recommendation, which will now go to the Oklahoma governor for a final decision.

“In this particular case, it’s been stepped up a notch,” he added, saying their vote decides “whether or not this young man even has a future.”

Morris pointed at how Jones’s co-defendant in the murder case, Chris Jordan, only served 15 years, what the board member called an “inherently wrong” facet of a prosecution activists say was tarred all over with racism and misconduct.


Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the clemency hearing of Julius Jones

Gustaf Kilander1 November 2021 14:44

Public defender: ‘Criminal justice system failed’ both Jones and Howell

Amanda Bass, the public defender for Julius Jones, argued at the hearing that “there are systemic flaws within the Oklahoma criminal justice system that present risks [that] innocent people will be convicted”.

“The criminal justice system failed” Paul Howell, the man Jones has been convicted of killing, Ms Bass added. “It also failed Julius Jones because it condemned him to death for something he didn’t do.”

“The Attorney General’s office has no good answer to the evidence of Julius Jones’s innocence,” she said. “They simply ignore things they cannot explain.”

“There is simply no way to look at all the evidence in this case and conclude that the system worked to produce a just result or his trial was fair,” Ms Bass added.

Josh Marcus and Gustaf Kilander1 November 2021 14:48

‘Jones exemplified everything that our commission found wrong in the Oklahoma death penalty system'

Christy Sheppard, the cousin of Debbie Carter who was killed in 1982, served on the bipartisan Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission.

In the case of Ms Carter, two men were convicted and one of them was sentenced to death before they were both freed when DNA evidence led authorities to another suspect.

The commission revealed large issues in the state’s death penalty system in a 2017 report.

“Julius Jones exemplified everything that our commission found wrong in the Oklahoma death penalty system,” Ms Sheppard said during the Monday hearing. “There is police and prosecutorial misconduct, including the use of confidential informants and an undisclosed deal with the man who probably committed the crime himself, and is now free.”

“We cannot be cavalier about the death penalty,” she added. “We cannot go through the motions of checking off the boxes on a list and call that justice. Justice will not be served if the real killer of Paul Howell is not exposed and held accountable.”

Josh Marcus and Gustaf Kilander1 November 2021 14:58

Girlfriend of Howell says executing Jones would be ‘catastrophic mistake'

Connie Ellison, the girlfriend of Paul Howell, spoke about visiting him in the hospital as she testified during the clemency hearing.

“I still vividly remember leaning over and whispering in Paul’s ear that I was there and I would always love him,” she said. His heart monitor began to beep faster. “It has taken years for the agony of Pauls’ death to lessen a bit, but that specific memory will never fade.”

She then spoke about visiting Jones in prison and the realization that she had doubts about the case.

“Julius is, at the very least, a human being ... Even though I know I would lose my treasured friendship with ... the Howell family, I had to speak my truth today,” she said. “I deeply loved and cherished Paul Howell, and I am still tormented by his tragic death.”

“I am here today to ask for mercy,” she added. “There are too many questions and too much doubt about Julius’s guilt to allow the state of Oklahoma to execute him in just over two weeks.”

“I have experienced both sides of this case, and I believe in my heart that Julius Jones does not deserve death at the hands of other human beings who might even have doubts of their own,” she said. “It would be a catastrophic mistake to execute a man whose guilt is not conclusive. I believe that Paul Howell would not want that, and neither do I.”

Josh Marcus and Gustaf Kilander1 November 2021 15:11

‘There are too many questions’: Girlfriend of slain Paul Howell pleads to stop Julius Jones death sentence

Oklahoma death row inmate Julius Jones is a “human being” who deserves the “mercy” of state authorities, the girlfriend of the slain Paul Howell told an appeals board on Monday, arguing that there are enough doubts about how the high-profile murder case at issue was prosecuted that Jones’s execution should be avoided.

Jones is set to be executed on 18 November for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, a businessman in the Oklahoma City suburbs, and has maintained his innocence for the last two decades. Connie Ellison, Howell’s girlfriend at the time of the slaying, said she willingly risked destroying her relationship with the Howell family to testify in his defence.

Read more:

Girlfriend of slain Paul Howell begs for ‘mercy’ at Julius Jones death penalty appeal

Julius Jones, a high-profile Oklahoma death row inmate, is making his final appeal to authorities on Monday ahead of a scheduled 18 November execution

Josh Marcus1 November 2021 15:20

Supporters watch hearing live outside meeting venue

Supporters also marched ahead of the hearing.

Gustaf Kilander1 November 2021 15:28

Howell family says Jones was correctly convicted

The Howell family has argued that multiple courts, as well as their own firsthand experience, correctly pin Jones as the killer.

“I looked over and saw Julius Jones walking up to the car,” Rachel Howell, Paul Howell’s daughter, told local news earlier this year. “I saw him walking up to the car, I remember waving. I’m a child, I don’t know what’s about to happen. He literally shot my dad in the head and did not say a word.”

The state of Oklahoma also defended its prosecution of Jones, noting that DNA evidence, multiple eyewitnesses, and Jones lengthy and at times violent criminal record all suggest he committed the murder of Paul Howell.

“The narrative Jones and his defence team have fed the media is absolutely false,” an official from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office said during the hearing. “The jury got it right. Clemency should be denied.”

Josh Marcus1 November 2021 15:57

Sister of victim argues for Jones’ guilt, saying that brother was killed in ‘an execution-style manner’

Megan Tobey, the sister of Paul Howell, argued for Jones’ guilt in front of the parole board.

“Julius Jones murdered Paul Howell, an innocent victim, in an execution-style manner, never giving him a chance to turn over the keys,” Ms Tobey said.

She also argued that Jones is a sociopath.

“There are ten ways to spot a sociopath,” she said. “Sociopaths are charming, they are spontaneous and intense. Sociopaths don’t feel shame, guilt, or remorse. Sociopaths invent outrageous lies. Sociopaths seek to win at all costs. They tend to be highly intelligent. They are incapable of love. They speak poetically. Sociopaths never sincerely apologize and sociopaths are delusional and believe whatever they say is the truth.”

Gustaf Kilander1 November 2021 16:28

Sister of victim: ‘We are continually being re-victimised’

The Howell family told the hearing room on Monday that they feel as though they’re the victims of “gaslighting” from celebrities like Kim Kardashian and legions of activists who have gotten behind Jones, a man they say is akin to a sociopath for his lack of empathy.

“It’s hurtful and we are continually being re-victimised,” Megan Tobey, Paul Howell’s sister, told the appeals board. “We need this to end for our family. We need Julius Jones to be held responsible.”

Josh Marcus1 November 2021 16:34

Julius Jones takes stand for first time in 20 years in final death penalty appeal

Julius Jones is now speaking out in his defence for the first time in 20 years. “I am not the person responsible for taking Mr Howell’s life,” he said.

Josh Marcus1 November 2021 16:44

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