Julius Jones Says He Forgives Howell Family Ahead of Execution: 'I Pray for Them Constantly'

Julius Jones, who is set to be executed on Thursday for the 1999 murder and carjacking of Paul Howell, said that he forgives the Howell family and that he prays for them "constantly."

During a recent interview with independent journalist Mara Schiavocampo, Jones was asked what he wants to say to Howell's family.

"I love them. I love them and I forgive them. They hate me and they don't really know why, but at the appointed moment, they will know the truth. And one day I hope that they open up their eyes and see the truth, but at this point, I hope they heal first," Jones said during the interview. "Out of all things, I hope they find healing. I've never had any ill will towards them. I don't wish them ill will. I pray for them constantly."

The comments by Jones, a 41-year-old Black man, come less than 24 hours ahead of his scheduled execution in Oklahoma. Jones was convicted of murdering Howell and was sentenced to death in 2002.

Despite the conviction, Jones has maintained his innocence and has claimed that he was framed by his friend Christopher Jordan.

Jordan was a co-defendant in Howell's murder case and served 15 years in prison after testifying that Jones fatally shot Howell. Jordan has since been released from prison.

During the interview with Schiavocampo, Jones was also asked if he had any messages for his mother, to which he said, "I'm sorry I was a bad kid. I'm sorry I made mistakes...but you know, I'm not a killer. I'm not a murderer."

While Jones has maintained his innocence, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter released a transcript of the trial in 2020 and said, "The information we are releasing today is from the trial transcript, and it disproves every claim that he is innocent."

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has not yet commented on the planned execution, but the state's Pardon and Parole Board has voted twice to commute Jones' sentence to life in prison.

In a statement sent to the Washington Post following the state's Pardon and Parole Board vote in September, Charlie Hannema, a spokesman for Stitt, said, "The governor takes his role in this process seriously and will carefully consider the Pardon and Parole Board's recommendation as he does in all cases."

In addition to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, numerous others have also called for the execution to be canceled.

In a video message sent to Stitt, Jones' mother, Madeline Davis-Jones said, "Governor Stitt, please send my baby boy home...He is innocent, and please send him home. In Jesus's name, I ask you."

Julius Jones
Julius Jones, 41, is set to be executed on Thursday for the 1999 killing of Paul Howell. Above, Jones is seen on February 5, 2018 in this photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP/Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP

Correction 11/18/21 10:37 AM ET - An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the scheduled execution day as Friday. Newsweek regrets the error.