Kim Kardashian, Kerry Washington & Others Helped Convince Okla. Governor to Stay Julius Jones' Execution
Several celebrities — including Kim Kardashian West, actress Kerry Washington, actor Mandy Patinkin, basketball star Steph Curry, and football player Baker Mayfield — and members of the public have successfully persuaded the governor of Oklahoma to intervene in the case of inmate Julius Jones.
On Thursday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt accepted the state's Pardon and Parole Board's recommendation, staying Jones' execution and commuting his death sentence to life in prison.
Jones was convicted of first-degree murder in 2002 for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, a businessman who was fatally shot in the driveway of his parents' home.
Jones has long maintained his innocence, and even had alibis for the night of the killing.
On Nov. 1, for the second time, the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for the 41-year-old man, urging that he be removed from death row.
Lawyers for Jones — who is set to die by lethal injection at 4 p.m. local time — have argued that he was set up, and that new evidence confirms that another man has claimed responsibility for the July 28, 1999, murder on multiple occasions.
His supporters further note that 11 of the 12 jurors to convict him were white.
"The state is so bent on vengeance that they will make every effort to ensure they get to kill Julius," Kim Kardashian West posted to Twitter Tuesday, "including reviving him if he happens to go into cardiac arrest prior to the execution. ... My heart breaks for Julius and so many others who have suffered from such tragic miscarriage of justice."
Kardashian West has helped bring awareness to several instances of systemic injustice, including the prosecution of sex trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown.
Following the news that Stitt had commuted Jones' death sentence, Kardashian West commended the governor on Twitter. "Thank you so much Governor Stitt for commuting Julius Jones sentence to life without parole and stopping his execution today," she wrote Thursday.
Kardashian West wasn't the only public figure to come to Jones' defense ahead of his scheduled execution on Thursday.
Kerry Washington urged her Twitter following to contact Stitt's office through this website, asking him to step in and halt Jones' execution.
Mandy Patinkin shared a video on his Twitter, also calling on Stitt to spare Jones' life.
Steph Curry recently called Jones in prison, and further urged Oklahoma's governor to remove him from death row.
As he spoke about the case Wednesday, Baker Mayfield — who wrote a personal letter in 2020 advocating for Jones' release — teared up at a press conference, the Akron Beacon-Journal reports.
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
"It's pretty rough, to be honest with you," Mayfield told reporters about Jones and his case. "That's not something that's easy to talk about. Been trying to get the facts stated and the truth to be told for a while, but it's tough to think about. Tried and tried. It's a shame it's gotten this far. We're 24 hours away. It's tough. You know, hopefully God can intervene and handle it correctly and do the things he needs to do."
NBA players Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Trae Young and Buddy Hield have also all penned letters to the governor's office as well as members of the Pardon and Parole Board as well.
Additionally, students across the globe have staged walkouts, calling attention to Jones' case.
More than 6.5 million people have signed a petition supporting Jones' release.
Jones' case was featured on Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, hosted by the renowned music executive who's also one of the Innocence Project's founding board members.