In the waning hours before Julius Jones’ scheduled execution, his mother gave a heartfelt monologue proclaiming his innocence outside the doors of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office on Wednesday.
It may have been her last chance to advocate for her son before he takes his final breath. Barring intervention from Stitt, Jones will be executed at 4 p.m. CST Thursday.
“If my child is executed tomorrow, or any day, it should be without a doubt, without any doubt,” Madeline Davis-Jones said. “Sorry is not going to bring anybody back. Why be sorry? Be sure.”
Her remarks were met with chants of “Free Julius” echoing throughout the building.
As of late Wednesday, Stitt had yet to say whether he would grant clemency, as recommended this month by a majority of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
Davis-Jones’ comments came shortly after she saw her son for what might be the final time and on the same day as hundreds of students at schools across the Oklahoma City metro area walked out of class in support of Jones.
Jones was convicted of murder in the shooting death of Paul Howell during a 1999 carjacking in Edmond but has maintained his innocence. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
“I wasn’t involved in it in any way. I wasn’t present. I didn’t even know he had been killed until after the fact,” Jones said at a clemency hearing Nov. 1.
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Prosecutors have disputed Jones’ claims of innocence, saying his 2002 trial showed clear evidence of his guilt and that the campaign to free him is based on misinformation.
Millions signed a petition in his support, and hundreds have participated in marches calling for his freedom. At a clemency hearing this month, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended 3-1 that his death sentence be reduced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Howell was 45 years old and working for his family’s insurance and bonds company when he was murdered in his driveway and his vehicle was stolen.
Local rapper Jabee Williams was one of hundreds of supporters gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday. He has been among those leading the charge for Jones’ freedom.
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“Julius told me yesterday, ‘Jabee, if they kill me, make sure they can’t do this to anybody else,'” Williams said.
Stitt can adopt, modify or reject the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation. The governor also could grant a stay of execution to give himself more time to reach a decision.
Former Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, instituted 30-day execution stays on multiple occasions to give himself more time to consider clemency recommendations.
Stitt’s office on Tuesday told local pastors the Republican governor was in deep prayer over Jones’ clemency recommendation.
After the execution order is read, Jones will have two minutes to share his final words. He may decline to speak.
The execution will begin after Jones is afforded his opportunity to speak.
The state is using a three-drug procedure of midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride to carry out executions.
After the first chemical is administered, a doctor will enter the execution room and check Jones for consciousness. After he is confirmed unconscious, the second and third chemicals will be administered to put him to death.