The family of death row inmate Julius Jones waited in vain for hours on Monday outside the Oklahoma governor’s office in an attempt to make one final desperate plea ahead of the 41-year-old’s scheduled 18 November execution.
Jones, who has spent more than half of his life in prison, was convicted of the 1999 murder of Oklahoma City businessman Paul Howell, who was shot in front of his two young daughters. He was sentenced to death during the height of the “Tough on Crime” era. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest, when he was a 19-year-old University of Oklahoma student, insisting he was framed by a prosecution witness.
An Oklahoma parole board recommended that Jones’ sentence be commuted in disagreement with the Howell family and Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office. Jones’ execution is scheduled for lethal injection Thursday.
Local reporter Thomas Fleming on Monday tweeted a photo of Jones’ friends and family, most of them masked, gathered outside the office of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who has the power to stop the execution.
Family Friend Jimmy Lawson told Mr Fleming, of KFOR, that they would wait “as long as it takes”.
After two and a half hours, however, a spokesman emerged only to tell them the governor would consider their letter but there was “a process” and there was not going to be a meeting, the KFOR reporter tweeted. When the family asked whether that meant Gov Stitt denied meeting with them, the spokesman just shut the door, the tweets continued.
“When asked if the Jones family plans to come back and request a meeting w/ the governor again, family friend Jimmy Lawson said “We’ll take this opportunity to reconvene with our team and then we’ll come up with our plan B,” Mr Fleming tweeted.
A day earlier, Jones’ mother also pleaded for Governor Stitt to intervene.
Madeline Davis-Jones released a video Sunday on the Justice for Julius social media account begging for him to call off her son’s execution.
“Governor Stitt, please send my baby boy home,” she said.
“He is innocent and please send him home in Jesus’ name. I ask you. Thank you.”
Jones’ case has galvanized a diverse group of supporters, from Kim Kardashian West to Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma.
His death date had previously been scheduled before a series of botched executions in Oklahoma inspired a temporary moratorium on the practice in 2015.
It resumed on 28 October to continued controversy when Oklahoma put to death John Marion Grant, who convulsed about two dozen times and vomited in what critics described as a “botched” execution.
The state insists the execution was carried out correctly.