Death row inmate Julius Jones told supporters who gathered Sunday outside the entrance to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester that he could hear their chants through the walls.

“I thank you all for traveling this far,” Jones said as he talked with supporters through phone. “I know this is out in the middle of nowhere.”

Jones, a Black man, was convicted in 2002 of shooting and killing 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.

More than 100 supporters of Jones gathered Sunday outside OSP to mark the end of a 131-mile trek that began Thursday in Oklahoma City by a group of five advocates — Jabee Williams, Francie Ekwerekwu, Irv Roland, Cody Bass, and Jess Eddy.

The group of five met other supporters Sunday at a convenience store at the intersection of West Street and Carl Albert Parkway in McAlester before walking the last mile to the entrance of OSP.

“Walking this journey has reminded me and reminded us that there is pain in other people’s lives, and we are supposed to walk alongside them,” said Williams. “We’ve been frozen, lost toenails, hungry, wanted to quit a hundred times, but we’ve also been surrounded by support and that is what we want for Julius, support.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter in July 2020 released transcripts from Jones’s trial after an ABC television documentary about Jones’ case garnered the attention of celebrities and athletes such as Kim Kardashian-West, Baker Mayfield, and Russell Westbrook.

Hunter said Jones had his day in court with an eyewitness testifying that the shooter was wearing a red bandanna. Hunter said authorities who searched Jones’ parents’ home found the murder weapon wrapped in a red bandanna in the attic space above the ceiling in his closet and that a DNA test conducted at the request of Jones’ defense had Jones’s DNA on it.

Supporters of Jones say that there is evidence that has never been brought in front of a court and that was the reason why the group of five made the 131-mile trek.

“We believe Julius Jones is innocent,” Williams said. “At the very least, that the reasonable doubt about his guilt shall result in communication of his death sentence.”

Williams said he hopes that people would take a few moments of their time to examine Jones’s story.

"We want people to see what we did this week and ask themselves 'Why would these people walk 131 miles?'” Williams said. “That’s the question we want every Oklahoman to ask because asking it puts you on a path to saving an innocent man’s life.”

Jones told his supporters that he was going to keep moving forward.

“I know its been a long journey,” said Jones to his supporters. “But I ask y’all to keep on keeping on the same way I’m gonna keep on keeping on for y’all.

“I appreciate you all. I hope you know how much I appreciate it.”

More information about those supporting Julius Jones can be found by visiting www.justiceforjuliusjones.com.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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