Oklahoma Attorney General addresses innocence claims of former OU athlete Julius Jones
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter released a summary of the trial transcript that shows the overwhelming evidence of guilt of convicted death row inmate Julius Jones.
The transcript directly refutes numerous instances of misinformation provided to the public in recent months by advocates for Jones. The release of the transcript summary comes after the attorney general met with the family of Paul Howell last week.
Attorney General Hunter said the mistruths being spread about the case led to his conversation with the Howell family and the release of the information.
“The fact is, Julius Jones murdered Paul Howell in cold blood in front of his sister and daughters,” Attorney General Hunter said. “No celebrity imploration or profusion of misinformation will change that."
"The information we are releasing today is from the trial transcript, and it disproves every claim that he is innocent. I strongly encourage those calling for his commutation to read the compelling evidence in this document," said Hunter. "Jones had his day in court. We’ve heard a lot recently from those advocating for his release. I’m here today to support the Howell family’s plea for justice. They are the victims in this case, and the pain of their loss is reawakened with each misguided public appeal on Jones’ behalf.”
Last week, the attorney general sent a letter in response to an inquiry from the Pardon and Parole Board that questioned whether or not death row inmates are eligible for commutation.
The attorney general’s letter references a 2012 opinion that establishes the board has the constitutional authority to recommend, and the governor has the constitutional authority to grant commutations to death row inmates.
“This office will always follow the law, despite rhetoric to the contrary by Mr. Jones’ lawyer last week, who said we would not, alleging we would be a ‘biased actor’ and engage in ‘a flimsy legal cover’,” Attorney General Hunter said. “I know my responsibilities as attorney general and am faithful to them. I would ask that Julius Jones’ advocates, likewise be responsible to the public with respect to their efforts on his behalf.”
Murder victim Paul Howell
Jones was convicted in 2002 of murdering Edmond resident Paul Howell during a carjacking. At the 1999 trial, an eyewitness testified that the shooter was wearing a red bandanna.
Authorities who searched Jones’ parents’ home found the murder weapon wrapped in a red bandanna in the attic space above the ceiling in his closet.
In 2018, at the request of the defense counsel, the state agreed to test the DNA on the bandanna. The bandanna was sent to a lab chosen by the defense.
The conclusive results of the DNA profile on the red bandanna show the probability of the DNA belonging to someone other than Jones is one in 110 million African Americans.
Subsequent to Howell’s murder, Jones pled guilty to robbery with a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm. This offense arose out of the armed carjacking of a vehicle outside a Hideaway restaurant the week before Howell’s murder.
The driver of this vehicle identified Jones. In addition, “substantial evidence linked Jones to the carjacking, which occurred just days before the instant offenses.
The stolen vehicle, a Mercedes, was recovered from a Norman apartment complex where Jones lived.
After Jones and a friend were arrested for Howell's murder, the key to the stolen Mercedes was found in the Cutlass shared by Jones and co-defendant Christopher Jordan.”
Jones was also arrested for attempting to elude a police officer, arrested while driving a stolen car (he had a loaded gun during this incident, and also had a pair of gloves and a pair of pantyhose in his pocket), tied to the robbing of a jewelry store at gunpoint, committed another carjacking at the same Hideaway during the same week, and fought with a detention officer.
During the trial, a juror allegedly overheard another juror remark [they] “should place him in a box in the ground for what he has done.” That claim was thoroughly explored by the trial court and on appeal.
The juror admitted only hearing part of the comment and couldn’t confirm that it was made about Jones. As a result, no error was found.
Now decades later, this same juror claims a racial epithet was also overheard, as the appellate court’s review of this allegation noted, “…it is highly improbable that [the juror] neglected to add, during the trial court’s investigation that [the other juror also] used a clearly offensive racial epithet…”
Additionally, a full hearing was held during the trial, where every juror was asked if they heard the allegation. All denied hearing it.