Friends, family, and supporters of death row inmate Julius Jones gathered Jan. 1 outside of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. 

Faith leaders and supporters of Julius Jones will hold a vigil and prayer service for the death row inmate Sunday outside Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester as Jones’ attorneys filed a petition for clemency Friday.

Jones, a Black man, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2002 for the death of Paul Howell, a white businessman in Edmond in 1999. Jones has maintained that he is innocent and was never even at the scene of the crime.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set Jones’ execution date for Nov. 18 despite the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommending Jones’ sentence to be commuted to life in prison.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he would not consider the commutation for Jones and said that a clemency hearing “is the appropriate venue for our state to consider death row cases.”

Jones’ clemency hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26. Attorneys for Jones filed the petition for clemency on Friday.

If the Board issues a similar recommendation, Stitt will have until Jones’ execution date to approve or deny that recommendation.

The Sunday vigil is organized by Minister Keith Jossell, Jones’ spiritual advisor and will feature numerous other leaders of faith from around the state, including Rev. Anthony Washington of the Mount Triumph Baptist Church in McAlester.

Jones’ mother, and Antoinette Jones, his sister, are also set to address the crowd.

Justice for Julius Director Rev. Cece Jones-Davis said in a press release announcing the vigil that Julius’ case has become a rallying cry for people of faith across Oklahoma.

“I believe God has a plan for Julius Jones and God has a plan for the Oklahomans who continue to fight for justice and freedom for this young man,” Jones-Davis said. “I have faith in him, and I have faith that he will help grant our leaders the wisdom to see the truth in this case and the courage to do what is right. Sunday is a day for us to share that faith with each other and to lift each other up in prayer. We invite anyone and everyone to join us and to learn more about Julius’ case and what they can do to correct this terrible injustice.”

Supporters of Jones held a rally Jan. 1 at OSP after a group of supporters trekked 131-miles in winter weather from Oklahoma City to the prison located in McAlester.

The Sunday rally is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. OSP is located at 1301 N. West Street in McAlester.

More information about those supporting Julius Jones can be found by visiting with information about the vigil on their Facebook page “Justice for Julius.”

Contact Derrick James at

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