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Kim Kardashian draws attention to Julius Jones case as Oklahoma execution nears

Jones, who is on death row for the July 1999 murder of Paul Howell, is scheduled to be executed Thursday.
Image: Kim Kardashian during a panel for the documentary "Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project" in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 18, 2020.
Kim Kardashian during a panel discussion about the documentary "Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project" in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 18, 2020.Mario Anzuoni / Reuters file

Kim Kardashian West posted a series of tweets outlining what she referred to as the "cold machinery" of the U.S. death penalty in her latest attempt to stop the execution of Oklahoma inmate Julius Jones.

Jones is on death row for the July 1999 murder of Paul Howell, an insurance executive who was shot in the driveway of his parents' home in Edmond as he, his sister and his two young daughters were returning from getting ice cream.

Jones has maintained his innocence, saying he was set up by the actual shooter, who was an acquaintance. The state's Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 this month to recommend that Jones' death sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The board had previously recommended the same sentence after a hearing in September.

The final decision will be made by Gov. Kevin Stitt, whose office did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday.

Jones is scheduled to be executed Thursday.

Julius Jones. Oklahoma Department of Corrections / via AP

Kardashian West and other celebrities have helped draw national attention to Jones' case. In 2019, she posted a tweet pleading with Stitt and the Pardon and Parole Board to consider granting Jones clemency.

Kardashian West, the reality television star who has become an outspoken criminal justice reform advocate, once again highlighted the controversial case in a series of tweets Tuesday.

"Julius, his family and everyone on his team are still hopeful Stitt will do the right thing. Today Julius’ family and close friends received invites to his execution. I can’t even imagine how they all must be feeling right now," she wrote.

Kardashian West, who visited Jones last year, shared details about how death row inmates are prepared for execution in Oklahoma.

"#JuliusJones has been on death watch for more than 2 weeks. In preparation for his execution on Nov. 18, he is alone in his prison cell just feet away from the executioner’s chamber," one tweet read.

"He has been strip searched, x-rayed, and issued a new set of clothes, shoes, mattress & bedding. Julius is being closely monitored by staff — every meal he has and every liquid he consumes is logged. His personal property has been catalogued and he has designated who is to receive it after he is put to death. He has also designated who will receive his remains," she continued.

"At 9pm the day before his execution, #JuliusJones phone privileges will be terminated and he will receive his last meal. He will be checked on every 15 minutes for the last four hours of his life. Then, he will be put to death."

She concluded by writing: "This is the cold machinery of the Death Penalty in America. In just over two weeks, an innocent man could be put to death. My heart breaks for Julius and so many others who have suffered from such tragic miscarriage of justice."

Several members of the parole board said at a hearing that they had doubts about the evidence.

"I continue to believe there is still doubt in this case," board member Kelly Doyle said.

However, member Richard Smothermon, a former prosecutor, said he did not believe Jones' account of the murder. Smothermon voted against clemency.

"To believe in Mr. Jones’ theory of the case, you have to disbelieve every other piece of evidence in the case," including physical evidence and testimony from law enforcement officers and independent witnesses, he said.

Jones and his legal team have said in legal filings that Jones' high school acquaintance was responsible for the murder. They claimed that on the evening after Howell was killed, the acquaintance stayed at Jones' house and planted a gun in the bedroom crawl space along with a red bandanna that witnesses said the murderer was wearing.

The acquaintance, who has denied the claim, said in court that he drove the car with Jones the night of the crime but that he did not shoot Howell. The acquaintance was ultimately sentenced to life on a murder charge and was released after 15 years.

Attorneys for Jones have also pointed out what they said were racial injustices during the trial, claiming that one of the 12 jurors should have been removed for saying authorities should put Jones, who is Black, "in a box and put him in the ground after this is all over for what he's done." The same juror is also alleged to have used a racial slur when referring to Jones during the trial, court documents showed.

Jones' attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.