Julius Jones Case Explained: Kim Kardashian West Takes Up Death Row Prisoner's Cause

Kim Kardashian West is offering her assistance to death row inmate Julius Jones, after reportedly meeting with Jones and his legal team on Monday.

TMZ reported recently that the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star spent time with Jones and his attorney, Dale Baich, in Oklahoma City. Afterwards, she reportedly met with his family at a nearby church. She also "promised to do whatever she could to assist his legal team," according to TMZ.

Kardashian West has long held an interest in Jones. In October 2019, she tweeted out a link to the Justice for Julius website, and called for people to ask both the Pardon and Parole Board and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to grant Jones clemency.

"The meeting was informative and productive. Ms. Kardashian West is committed to continuing to work to correct the injustices in Julius's case," Baich said in an emailed statement to Newsweek.

Cece Jones-Davis—founder of the Julius Jones Coalition, an organization that campaigns for clemency for Jones and raises awareness about his case—detailed the meeting between West and the Jones family in a phone call.

"It was an incredible meeting. She was able to meet with them at their home church, Tabernacle Baptist Church, where Julius Jones grew up in church and had a conversation that lasted about an hour or so, talking about all the issues within Julius' case and hearing from them what life has been like for them over the last 21 years. I think having that kind of affirmation from someone of her stature, who doesn't have to take the time to press into these kinds of issues, really meant a lot to the Jones family and a lot to those of us who are supporting the Jones family through all of this," Jones-Davis said.

Jones was arrested in 1999, when he was 19 years old. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 2002 for the death of a 45-year-old man named Paul Howell. According to The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), Jones' co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, testified against Jones in exchange for a lessened sentence. Jordan was released after serving 15 years.

The court's handling of Jones' case has been subject to numerous criticisms. The DPIC explains that court-appointed lawyers didn't call Jones' alibi witnesses to testify, nor did they cross-examine Jordan or call Jones to testify. According to TMZ, at the church meeting with Kardashian West, Jones' mother said that her son was home with her the night that Howell was killed.

Many people believe that racial discrimination is at the root of Jones' conviction. A January 2019 petition to the Supreme Court asked whether evidence that one juror called the trial a "waste of time" and used the n-word to refer to Jones "establishes that racial prejudice influenced the decision of at least one juror to convict Mr. Jones and sentence him to death."

Besides the 2019 petition to the Supreme Court, Jones has also filed petitions to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appears in June and December 2017, and another to the Supreme Court in November 2017. The latter petition said that statistics showed a racial bias affecting Oklahoma death sentences between 1990 and 2012. The Supreme Court declined to review the challenges, according to DPIC.

Jones' case was included in the 2018 docu-series The Last Defense, which was executive produced by Viola Davis and, according to TMZ, was how Kardashian West found out about the case. Other celebrities like rapper Common and NBA players Blake Griffin, Trae Young and Russell Westbrook have all spoken out against the charges against Jones. Common called for justice for Jones in an Instagram video. Griffin, Young and Westbrook all wrote letters to Stitt about Jones' case.

A Change.org petition against Jones' execution currently has more than 6 million signatures. According to Jones-Davis, Kardashian West and other stars were incredibly helpful in getting people to sign the petition. "I think that if it had not been for them, we definitely would not—I don't believe we would be this far in our campaigning efforts as we have gotten," she said on the phone. "That really does show us the power of influence and [we are] really grateful for people who will use their influence in socially responsible ways."

Jones-Davis said the next steps in Jones' case are waiting for the Pardon and Parole board to "create a process that could legitimately hear a commutation application like Julius Jones' [application]." She said the process is currently set up for non-violence offenses, with hearings being very short."We need them to expand their process to be well beyond five minutes, so that all the merits of Julius' case can be observed and considered," she said.

After that, she said they need to wait for the board to give Jones a date for a hearing. "We need them to do that soon, because we are expecting the state of Oklahoma to resume executions some time next year. So time is of the essence, and we really need them to hear his case soon," Jones-Davis said.

As noted by TMZ, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter responded to news of Kardashian West's involvement by saying, "Jones had his day in court and has exhausted his appeals at every level. He committed this horrific crime and now must serve the sentence a jury of his peers deemed appropriate. I encourage those advocating for Jones, including Mrs. Kardashian West, to research the case and read the summary of the transcript on our website."

Kardashian West's publicist did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment in time for publication.

Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian West attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. Getty/Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic