Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns quarterback and former Oklahoma Sooners star, wrote a letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt demanding that death row inmate Julius Jones be commuted.
Mayfield, along with NBA stars Russell Westbrook, Trae Young, and Blake Griffin, wrote in support of Jones, who he feels was unfairly convicted of first-degree murder in 2002. All of the aforementioned athletes were star athletes in the state.
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“Beyond the obvious shortcomings of the trial, another problem that continues to weigh on me is the obvious racial bias that permeates Julius’ arrest, prosecution, and conviction,” wrote the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in his letter. “All Americans are supposed to be guaranteed a fair and impartial trial. But when the arresting officer calls it “N-word,” when a juror calls it “N-word,” and when all of this takes place in the context of decades of death penalty sentences against black men, it is impossible to conclude. Julius received fair and impartial treatment.
“The Oklahomans I met are not racists; They are not mean and do not want to participate in injustice in these times. That is why I am sure that when the Oklahomans become aware of the events surrounding Julius Jones and his conviction, they will demand that his sentence be commuted. “
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Jones maintained his innocence while in prison and applied for clemency in October 2019 from the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Parole, according to The Oklahoman. Jones’ supporters have cited multiple errors in the trial, including shoddy legal equipment and racial bias from the jury.
State officials have backed the decision in the Jones case. When Representative Kendra Horn wrote to Stitt in December 2019 in support of Jones, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Horn formed an opinion without investigating “the true facts.”
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“I don’t care how many dumb people will sign a petition supporting the killer without even investigating the public record of the case,” Prater said at the time, according to The Oklahoman. “They have a right to their uninformed opinion of the murderer, but they have no right to express their own set of lies and half-truths. It is important to note that the case has been reviewed by state and federal courts through the appeals process. All the courts have affirmed the guilt and sentence of this murderer. “