Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has written a letter to authorities in Texas advocating for the release of convicted murderer and death row inmate Julius Jones.
“As a black man in this country right now,” Prescott said in a letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, according to TIME magazine. “I experience injustices firsthand day in and day out, even as an athlete with ‘celebrity status.'”
Jones was convicted of the 1999 murder of Edmond, Oklahoma, businessman Paul Howell. The victim was brutally gunned down in front of his sister and his two young daughters.
“Current events are shining a much-needed light on deep-seated prejudices and systemic mistreatment of black people, and it is my sincere hope that the cultural movements of today will lead to significant social changes that will create a better tomorrow,” Prescott continued in his letter. “To that end, you all are in the unique position of being able to make a direct impact by addressing a specific miscarriage of justice.”
Prescott’s interest was likely piqued because Jones was an incoming sophomore student-athlete at Oklahoma University when he was convicted of the crime.
What ever his motivations, Prescott thinks the state convicted the wrong man for the crime.
“After reviewing the facts of the Julius Jones case, I firmly believe the wrong person is being punished for this terrible crime; furthermore, an evaluation of the process that led to Mr. Jones’ conviction raises serious legal and ethical concerns,” Prescott wrote. “I implore you to right this wrong. Please don’t let another innocent black man die from the systemic mistreatment that has plagued our nation for far too long.”
The convict’s family maintains that Jones was at home during the shooting and could not have been Howell’s murderer.
Other issues have come out since the trial, including the witness testimony that the killer had long hair sticking out of his cap, but Jones said he had closely cropped hair at the time. It has also been alleged that the prosecutor in the case was heard admitting he framed Jones and that some of the jurors were racists heard calling Jones the n-word.
Despite these claims, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter recently released a report entitled, “Overwhelming Evidence of Guilt,” that refutes all the claims made by Jones’ supporters.
Consequently, AG Hunter also said he had reviewed all the evidence in the trial, and he thinks that the verdict was the correct one. In an interview with TIME, Hunter said he believes that Jones deserves the death sentence.
“The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hunter told TIME. “I just want to reiterate, you always have to allow for the possibility that you’ve missed something or you’re wrong about decisions or conclusions that you’ve made, whether you’re an attorney general or a member of Congress or a governor. We’re all made of the same clay here, nobody is immaculate. And I have listened. And we have had reviews of the record. There are a few attorneys in here that know more about this case than I do, but I guarantee you I know more about this case than those who are advocating on Mr. Jones’ behalf.”
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