By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma State Conference of the NAACP has called on Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater to release case files on death row prisoner Julius Jones “in order to promote public trust in both the criminal justice system and in Mr. Jones’s case.”
Attorneys for Jones have repeatedly sought disclosure of case files since January 2017.
As reported by The City Sentinel on September 7, following a hearing in the Jones’ case presided over by Judge Bill Graves at the Oklahoma County District Court House, the state agreed to make its file on Jones available for inspection.
The District Attorney’s office claimed on October 31 that they “have never been afraid of the truth,” however, Prater’s office has repeatedly refused to share the files.
Garland Pruitt, President of the Oklahoma City NAACP says his organization is concerned about the fairness of Jones’s conviction and death sentence.
The letter from the local NAACP branch states, “In Mr. Jones’s case in particular, there are concerns about other suspects, the reliability of the state’s witnesses, possible racial bias by officers and at least one juror, and poor legal representation.
“The only way to ensure a fair process is for Mr. Jones’s counsel to receive the information about the case held in the files generated and maintained by the District Attorney’s Office…. As long as Mr. Jones’s case files are kept secret, the public cannot be certain that the police and prosecutors have nothing to hide in the case,” the letter continued.
Julius Darius Jones, on death row in Oklahoma, has continually maintaining his innocence and his attorneys believe there is compelling evidence that he was wrongfully convicted.
Jones’ co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, was the state’s key witness against Jones. However, the only eyewitness to the murder, gave a description of the shooter, which fit Jordan, instead of Jones.
The prosecution repeatedly told jurors during the trial that Jordan would serve a 30-year sentence in exchange for his testimony against Julius. But, after pleading guilty to the crime, Jordan was released after only 15 years and is now a free man.
According to a 2004 interview with Jordan, conducted by an appellate investigator with the Oklahoma County Public Defender’s Office, the prosecution knew Jordan would actually serve only 12-15 years in exchange for his cooperation.
An eyewitness to the crime reported that the shooter wore a red bandana over his mouth during the crime. Results from DNA testing of a bandana recovered from Jones’ home were released on October 30, which did not yield evidence about who committed the crime.
According to the report, the bandana had Jones’ and three other people’s DNA on it. who have yet to be identified.
Jones’ attorneys contend the case is riddled with “odious racial discrimination” – including the State’s removal of all prospective black jurors except one, along with evidence showing that a juror used the n-word to describe Jones before jury deliberations at the sentencing phase.
In August, a letter from the Congressional Black Caucus regarding Jones’ case was written to Governor Mary Fallin expressing “deep concerns about the application of the death penalty in Oklahoma, specifically with respect to racial bias and the risk of executing an innocent person.”
The letter states, “the U.S. Supreme Court has made unequivocally clear that our criminal justice system cannot tolerate such blatant examples of racial prejudice on the part of even a single juror. In this way and many others, Mr. Jones’ rights under the state and federal constitutions have been violated.”
This call by NAACP Oklahoma for the district attorney’s office to disclose the Jones’ case files is the latest declaration of public concern about the case.
“The citizens in Oklahoma County and across the state deserve a criminal justice system that is transparent, accountable and free from racial discrimination,” concluded Pruitt. “The refusal of the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office to disclose its files does not serve the public interest nor does it fulfill the prosecutor’s unique role.
“Using taxpayer-funded state resources to investigate a crime, build a theory of the case, and charge suspects gives prosecutors immense power. With that power comes the responsibility to ensure justice, not just convictions. “