Julius Jones Deserves A Fair Hearing Not The Death Penalty

America has a horrible history of capital punishment and worse, executing the wrong man or woman. Oklahoma is the worst of the worse. Julius Jones sits on death row and by many accounts should have never been charged let alone sentenced to death. His story is starting to get noticed and hopefully, there is time to save the life of an innocent black man.

Jones is accused of the first-degree murder of Paul Howell, the affluent business owner in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1999 in what was called a carjacking. He was tried by Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy who often bragged about the 54 men he found guilty of murder. Macy took special pride in sentencing men to death.

 

Baker Mayfield Game Shoe Photo Credit KOCO

 

Last week Kim Kardashian came to Oklahoma to raise awareness for the plight of Jones and her voice was joined by NBA players who, like others want to see justice. Jones was also the subject of a documentary produced by Viola Davis.

All around the world court houses will often have some version of the Lady of Justice statue who holds of scales of justice while being blindfolded. For too many people of color those scales are weighed against them and the lady is not blind to injustice. Certainly, it seems like the case for Jones who at the time of his conviction was a 19-year-old University of Oklahoma scholar-athlete. His story bears repeating and deserves screams for justice.

First off, Jones has an alibi, he was playing card games with his family at the time of the murder. Jones had some public defenders who by their own account did not represent for him well. His lawyers called no witnesses and offered no rebuttal to damning testimony made against Jones. They literally rested.

Jones was offered up as the shooter by well known informants who often evaded justice by giving information to law enforcement. The man who claimed he drove the vehicle to the crime scene, Christopher Jordan, also gave testimony that implicated Jones.

 

Julius Jones and Kim KardashianAP;Getty Images

 

The only eyewitness was Howell’s sister who described the shooter as black, wearing a red bandana across his face, with about a half an inch of hair sticking out from the mask. The hair description did not match Jones, but it did match Jordan. Jordan, who was sentenced to life for his part in the crime, was released from prison after 15 years and is walking free. Jordan had braided hair much like the hair described by the witness. The information was never shared with the jury. Nor was the picture of Jones of a police photo for a traffic offense a few days before the murder. The photo shows Jones’ hair to be short.

A juror has come forward and told investigators for Jones that there was racial bias and in one incident, a juror said the trial was a waste of time and the N-word should be shot behind the jail.

DNA testing request was ignored by the district attorney’s office for a long time and then when it was allowed, it was inconclusive and unusable. The United States Supreme Court chose to not consider the case after Jones’ attorneys argued that there is racism in Oklahoma in the justice system.

Oklahoma leads the state in incarcerating individuals at a rate of 1,079 people per 100,000 imprisoned. Oklahoma is the second deadliest state behind only Texas in execution rates. Oklahoma imprisons black men five times the rate as those for white men (3,797 for blacks to 767 for whites for every 100,000). Black men were far more likely to receive the death penalty for murdering a white man compared to other racial groups.

Jordan told inmates in prison that he was the killer and set up Jones. Both men are on death row and their cooperation would not affect their sentence or commute it in anyway. The courts said it was not enough to overturn or call for a new trial.  The bias in the system is everywhere in this case. The jury was never told the witnesses were granted deals for their testimony.

Jones’ attorney’s Dale A. Baich and Amanda C. Bass are presenting seeking a commutation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and for Governor Kevin Stitt to approve the commutation. This for Julius Jones and the crime he clearly did not commit. If anyone has any information that could be helpful to this case contact Justice for Julius (justiceforjuliusjones.com) or his attorney dale_baich@fd.org .

Jones deserves justice and he has been thwarted every step of the way. Jones is fast running out of time and once Oklahoma lifts their moratorium on executions, they will start scheduling those who have run out of appeals. The death penalty is barbaric and does not deter crime. However, executing an innocent man is state murder. Do not let this happen.

Edward J. Perkins; A Life Worth Remembering

 

Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

 

Some loomed large for their place in historic moments and some are recognized for a life well lived. Edward J. Perkins was both and so much more. He has left this life; however, his legacy of service will live on.

A career diplomat, he grew up in segregated Louisiana, and despite his humble beginnings he rose to become the first black ambassador in apartheid South Africa. His extradinary role opened the doors of the state department to other people of color. At the time of his death last month at the age of 92 it seemed like he’d always be there to offer his strong voice to every issue within the foreign service.

 

Dr. Perkins outside the presidential palace in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1986, the year he was appointed ambassador by President Ronald Reagan Credit…Patrick Durand/Sygma, via Getty Images

 

Perkins retired from the service in 1996 and after leaving the Federal service to work for the William J. Crowe Chair and as Executive Director of the International Programs Center by the University of Oklahoma Regents. He stayed in that position from August 1996 to December 2010.

Perkins was the United States Ambassador during some of the most trying times in South Africa and helped lay the groundwork for the eventual end of Apartheid. Ambassador Perkins has a list of assignments in the foreign service and it is too lengthy to list. We encourage everyone to learn about a life lived well.

Edward J. Perkins Obituary on www.legacy.com