Incarcerated since 1999 at the age of 19, for a crime he denies having committed, Julius Jones (41) was to be executed this Thursday, November 18, and his fate was in the hands of the governor of Oklahoma , Kevin Stitt. Finally, after a wait that one imagines unbearable for the inmate and his family, the governor decided to follow the advice of the Oklahoma pardon and parole office and to quash his death sentence.
After spending more than half of his life behind bars, including 12 years in solitary confinement, in McAlester Prison, Julius Jones is now sentenced to ” life imprisonment without the possibility of parole« .
A case that has become emblematic
A promising former basketball player, who was awarded a scholarship for his good academic performance at the University of Oklahoma, Julius Jones is charged with the murder of businessman Paul Howell based on testimony from a single eyewitness, even though the description of the killer didn’t quite match her appearance at the time and her family assured her that Julius was with her for dinner at the time of the incident …
Subject of a documentary released in 2018, Julius Jones has become an emblematic case thanks to the investment of personalities like Kim Kardashian, James Corden or Demi Lovato. But also in the NBA sphere, and even more among players who have passed through Oklahoma, including Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Trae Young and Buddy Hield.
This week, during the Warriors’ visit to Oklahoma City, Julius Jones was again at the center of the discussions. Invited to the preseason game between the Thunder and the Warriors at the end of October, the family had been able to take photos with Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green or even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
“There is definitely an awareness of what is going on [dans cette affaire] », explained Steve Kerr at a press conference.
A grave injustice according to Russell Westbrook
Already in direct telephone communication with Stephen Curry during this preseason game, Julius Jones had also obtained the support of a number of other NBA players.
“We talk about this type of thing regularly”, blows Mark Daigneault in The Oklahoman. “There is obviously a victim in this case, and her family deserves a fair decision. But a great deal of justice is based on honesty, and it must be expected that the existing justice system can deliver it. Especially in this case with these particular consequences. “
Russell Westbrook and Buddy Hield notably sent letters to Governor Stitt to tip the scales in favor of Julius Jones, as early as April 2020 in the case of Hield, the former Sooners star. In this race against time that has been going on for so long, has justice done its job well?
“I believe the criminal justice system is on the verge of doing a grave injustice”Russell Westbrook had written. “An injustice that is at odds with the values of Oklahoma that I know and love. “
Ultimately, Julius Jones avoids the death penalty, but he will not have the right to a new trial, and he will end his days in prison.