DEATH row inmate Julius Jones has spent nearly two decades behind bar for a crime he insists he didn’t commit.
Jones’ family members, including his mother Madeline Davis-Jones, father Anthony Jones and sister Antoinette Jones have been fight for justice in order to grant his clemency.
Who is Julius Jones’ sister Antoinette Jones?
Antoinette Jones has been very active in fighting to overturn her brothers death row sentence.
On Twitter, Antoinette has started a page dedicated to seeking justice for Julius.
The bio on the page reads, “On here for #Justice4Julius justiceforjuliusjones.com.”
Antoinette has expressed her family’s renewed sense of optimism, especially after the case of her brother caught the attention of Kim Kardashian, who met with her brother in November.
Antoinette said Kardashian told the family after meeting with her brother that she felt more compelled to fight for him.
“She has an amazing history of fighting for those who don’t have a voice,” Antoinette told Koco 5.
“She was like, she could tell the way Julius truly loves me.
“She was so engaged with everything that we had to say. She said she actually did her research, and she looked at it. She’s like, there’s no way after looking at all of the evidence and research that anybody wouldn’t find him innocent,” Antoinette added.
She said having her brother’s case in the national spotlight is vital because at the trial, no one – not Jones or his loved ones – got to testify.
“That’s the whole point. He never got a proper defense,” Antoinette told the outlet.
Who is her brother Julius Jones?
Julius Jones was a 19-year-old student at the University of Oklahoma when he was considered as the prime suspect in the killing of 45-year-old businessman Paul Howell.
He was on the verge of gaining a basketball scholarship when he was arrested and charged with Howell’s murder in August 1999, according to OU Daily.
The inmate has spent more than 20 years proclaiming his innocence, and a Change.org petition claims he spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement as he awaits his fate.
“Every minute we wait to take action, Julius is suffering,” the petition says.
“Every second that goes by brings Julius closer to being executed for a crime he didn’t commit.”
Why is he on death row?
Jones was arrested and charged with murder in 1999 when Howell was shot in his 1997 GMC Suburban less than 20 miles away from Jones’ home.
Howell’s sister described the shooter as “a black man wearing a stocking cap” with “half an inch of hair hanging out,” his attorney Dale Baich told OU Daily in December 2019.
Three suspects interviewed by Edmonton Police pinned Jones and a high school basketball teammate, Christopher Jordan, as the alleged carjacking murderers.
Despite a lack of evidence to directly connect Jones to Howell’s killing, he was sentenced to death and 40 years in prison in 2002.
Jordan was the state’s key witness against him, and advocates for Jones say his case has been tainted by racial discrimination.
“We have serious concerns by the way the evidence was collected, handled and stored,” Baich said, claiming that Jones was targeted by “self-proclaimed car thugs and a gang member.”
Despite an agreement that Jordan would serve 30 years in exchange for his testimony, he walked free after serving half of that time, according to an overview of his case on JusticeForJuliusJones.com.
“In this way and many others, Mr. Jones’ rights under the state and federal constitutions have been violated and his conviction and death sentence should be overturned,” the description reads.
Meanwhile, Jones remains locked up at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
He filed for clemency in October 2019 after exhausting all of his options to fight the death penalty.
“As God is my witness, I was not involved in any way in the crimes that led to Paul Howell being shot and killed,” his clemency report said, as reported by OU Daily.
“I have spent the past 20 years on death row for a crime I did not commit, did not witness and was not at.”
Why did Jones’ family meet with Kim Kardashian?
Kardashian has helped put the spotlight back on Jones’ case years after it disappeared from the headlines.
In November, she paid Jones a visit in jail a little over a year after she brought attention to his case on Twitter.
The reality TV star shared photos of her trip to Oklahoma on Instagram and revealed that she also spoke with Jones’ mother Madeline and his family at a baptist church that same day.
The criminal justice advocate also revealed that Jones “broke down in tears” when he lamented about how he missed out on taking his sister Antoinette to prom because of his wrongful conviction.
“I’m so thankful for the most supportive freedom fighters for Julius Jones,” she wrote in her photo caption.
“We won’t stop until we get justice.”
On October 16, 2019, Kardashian urged her followers to write Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board as well as Gov Kevin Stitt to ask for clemency for Jones.
She also shared a link to his advocacy website, saying: “Please help by asking the Board and @GovStitt to give careful and thoughtful consideration to his petition.”
Her call to action has attracted the attention superstar athletes, including NFL quarterback Baker Mayfield and NBA star Russell Westbrook, both of whom have written letters to Oklahoma Gov Stitt in support of Jones’ clemency.
What did Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter say about Kardashian’s visit?
However, not everyone was happy about Kardashian’s visit, as Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter blasted her over her lack of knowledge.
“Celebrity endorsements and biased documentaries cannot erase the facts of the case that overwhelmingly prove Julius Jones killed Paul Howell in cold blood,” Hunter told TMZ in November.
Hunter pointed out that DNA evidence cleared showed “the probability of selecting an individual with the same DNA profile found with the murder weapon is 1 in 110million.”
“Jones had his day in court and has exhausted his appeals at every level. He committed this horrific crime and now must serve the sentence a jury of his peers deemed appropriate.
‘I encourage those advocating for Jones, including Mrs. Kardashian West, to research the case and read the summary of the transcript on our website,” Hunter added.