Julius Jones supporters pray for Oklahoma governor to grant clemency


On Friday, a group of pastors and ministers from Oklahoma City gathered outside the State Capitol to pray for Governor Kevin Stitt as he assesses the fate of death row inmate Julius Jones.

The preachers said they hoped Stitt would build heavily on his Christian roots and follow the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board that Jones be granted clemency.

“Lord, we implore you to allow Governor Stitt to be the hero of Julius’ story,” Jones spiritual advisor Reverend Keith Jossell said in his prayer.

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The group of about 20 ministers with the Oklahoma City Baptist Ministers’ Association and concerned clergy for spiritual renewal became the latest group to express support for Jones and publicly urge Stitt to choose mercy. With few exceptions, most of the group’s members are black preachers and pastors who lead congregations in predominantly black northeast Oklahoma City.

Crowds of supporters, many carrying placards asking for mercy for Jones, gathered around the ministers and prayed with them.

Julius Jones supporters hold signs of support during a prayer service on Friday outside the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

The prayer gathering comes just days before Jones’ execution date, which has been set for November 18. Jones was convicted in 2002 of the shooting death of Edmond’s insurance manager, Paul Howell, in a 1999 carjacking. Jones maintained his innocence in the murder, claiming another individual shot and killed Howell and blamed the murder on him.

The state Pardons and Parole Board voted 3-1 for Jones’ leniency, recommending that his sentence be reduced to life with the possibility of parole. The council also voted in favor of leniency at a hearing in September.

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Carly Atchison, Stitt’s director of communications, said the governor’s office would not comment on it until Stitt made a decision regarding Jones’ fate.

People pray during a prayer service in support of Julius Jones on Friday at the Oklahoma City State Capitol.

On Friday, Reverend John A. Reed, civil rights activist, leader of ministerial groups and longtime senior pastor at Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, urged Stitt, who has spoken publicly about his Christianity, to put the Christian faith principle of mercy in action by granting clemency for Jones.

“I sincerely believe that he (the governor) is part of the religious community and that he is a believer,” Reed said. “We believe that there is power in prayer and we believe in difficult situations, now is the time for those of us who have faith – as families – to pray.”

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Rev. Major Jemison, senior pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, said ministers had requested a meeting with the governor to discuss the issue of Jones’ possible clemency, but Stitt’s office refused. The preacher said the ministerial group was not hostile to Stitt, there was simply a desire to ask him to follow the recommendations of the pardon and parole board.

“It was our sincere and honest desire to meet with you in person on this matter to tell you that a show of mercy is the only appropriate decision in light of the circumstances,” Jemison said, addressing his comments to the governor.

James Hudson prays with his grandnephew, Jordan Mason, 3, at a prayer service hosted by the Concerned Clergy for Spiritual Renewal and the Oklahoma City Baptist Ministers Association on Friday outside the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

He said the circumstances surrounding Jones ‘conviction included Jones’ lack of adequate representation, lack of fairness and lack of equality.

Jemison also expressed unease that there could be negative consequences if the governor goes against the recommendation of the Pardons and Parole Board, especially because many people feel that the recommendation was fair.

“We are also very concerned about the potential for civil unrest if the state executes Mr. Jones without taking into account the avalanche of questions and the ambiguity surrounding the circumstances of the case,” he said. he declared.

Jones continued to enjoy the support of religious leaders across the state and other parts of the country, as well as artists, top athletes and various organizations. Meanwhile, prosecutors like Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater have categorically claimed Jones was guilty and the campaign to get him released was based on misinformation. Among other things, Prater sent a letter to the Pardons and Parole Board in which he shared details of Jones’ criminal history prior to the murder and the evidence against him.

Meanwhile, several ministers prayed Friday that the Lord would give wisdom to Stitt as he weighed the fate of Jones. They also prayed for Howell’s family members, several of whom spoke out against Jones’ request for leniency during Monday’s parole and pardon board hearing.

In this sense, Rev. Larry Foster, pastor of the Progressive Baptist Church, asked that the Lord grant peace to those affected by Jones’ case, including the Howell family as well as the Jones family. He said ministers did not want to disrespect the Howells as they demanded justice in the form of clemency for Jones.

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