Op-ed: “Executing an innocent man is not justice; spare the life of Julius Jones”

 

I am a Christian, a lifelong Oklahoman, a former law clerk for the Honorable Gary Lumpkin on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and former appointee to the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility Tribunal, where I served for six years. I believe in our legal system, but I also know it is capable of mistakes. One of those mistakes was the conviction and death sentence of Julius Jones, whom I firmly believe is innocent of the crime for which he awaits execution.

I first heard about Jones’ case in May 2020 and was initially skeptical about his claim to innocence. I believe our justice system gets it right most of the time, and I support the death penalty in appropriate cases. I also feel strongly, however, that before someone is executed, there should be a high degree of certainty about the person’s guilt. Because I had questions about Jones’ case and wanted to know more for myself, I investigated. I read the trial transcripts, the appellate and post-conviction records, all the briefs and opinions that had been filed, and I reviewed the new evidence that has come to light since Jones’ trial. I was troubled to discover that the jury didn’t have three key pieces of evidence that would have demonstrated Jones’ innocence.

Kelli Masters is an attorney and sports agent who resides in Oklahoma.

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