Oklahoma County residents want a grand jury to investigate District Attorney David Prater and recommend removing him from office, alleging he’s targeting Julius Jones by interfering with hearings that could wipe out his death sentence.
They filed a petition late Wednesday that laid out a timeline of events this year they said are attempts to deprive Jones of his rights, alleging there’s a pattern of conduct from Prater driven by racism.
Jones has long maintained his innocence in the murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell, and the pardon and parole board last month recommended commuting Jones’ sentence. Before that hearing, Prater took several public actions to thwart or undermine the hearing, including asking for two board members to be excluded from it.
Last week, Prater asked for a grand jury investigation of the pardon and parole board, and this week he asked for those same board members to be removed from Jones’ upcoming clemency hearing.
"An individual is going against the pardon and parole's decision. An individual is going against the governor's appointees. When do we stop? When do we say enough is enough?" said NAACP chapter President Garland Pruitt.
The citizen petition was filed a week after Prater asked for and was granted a grand jury investigation of the pardon and parole board. That process will start the week before Jones’ clemency hearing. Activist Jess Eddy said they expect their citizen petition to be handled the same way as Prater’s.
"If he's going to be afforded the remedies of the courts to move quickly enough with his grand jury proceeding to intervene and interrupt and harm Julius' opportunity on Oct. 26, then we expect the same," Eddy said.
If the judge approves the petition, it will need 5,000 signatures from registered voters in Oklahoma County within 45 days.
Gov. Kevin Stitt declined to act on Jones' commutation recommendation, saying he will let his clemency hearing play out instead.