(CNN)With the execution of Julius Jones just one day away, celebrities are urging Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt to grant clemency to the death row inmate who says he is innocent.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones earlier this month, but Stitt has not said whether he will accept it.
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian — who has long advocated against Jones’ death sentence — actors Kerry Washington and Mandy Patinkin, professional athletes including Baker Mayfield and others, have been using their voice in calling for the governor to spare Jones.
“Please take action. Share #JuliusJones story and tweet at @GovStitt to ask him to release this innocent man,” Washington tweeted.
Jones’ supporters have gathered near the governor’s mansion over the past few nights, and some have set up tents outside overnight, CNN affiliate KOCO reported.
Jones has been on death row for nearly 20 years after he was sentenced for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, who was shot in a carjacking as he pulled into his parents’ driveway with his adult sister and two daughters. Jones, his attorneys and advocates say he is innocent.
More than 6 million people have signed a Justice for Julius petition against Jones’ execution. The clemency petition says he’s been on death row because of “fundamental breakdowns in the system tasked with deciding” his guilt, including ineffective and inexperienced defense attorneys, racial bias among his jury and alleged prosecutorial misconduct.
The case has garnered much attention, in part due to the 2018 ABC documentary series “The Last Defense,” which spotlighted it.
The Innocence Project claims that there is “new and compelling evidence” that suggests Jones did not kill Howell, including that Jones had an alibi that his defense attorney did not present at his trial.
Howell’s relatives, including his daughter, remain convinced of Jones’ guilt. Because Jones’ case has received so much publicity and support, the family has set up its own Justice for Paul Howell website.
“For the past twenty-one years, both the state and federal judicial system have been involved in scrutinizing this case,” the website says. “The courts have heard multiple appeals in multiple forms and at multiple levels from Julius Jones. They have found no claim which necessitated the granting of relief.”
It is now up to Stitt whether Jones is put to death or gets clemency. If the latter, Jones’ sentence will be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Original posted at www.cnn.com