Kim Kardashian West visited death row inmate Julius Jones in her latest bid to advocate for criminal justice reform.
The reality star and business mogul has been outspoken about the issue ever since she worked with President Donald Trump to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who was convicted for a nonviolent drug trafficking offense and was ultimately released after 21 years. Since then, Kardashian has been studying to become a lawyer and continues to use her celebrity to highlight cases where someone may have been wrongfully convicted.
She recently visited Jones in Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester as well as his family at a nearby church. According to TMZ, Jones, a Black man, was arrested at age 19 for the shooting death of 45-year-old Paul Howell in 1999. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 2002 and sentenced to death. However, many familiar with the case believe that Jones was racially profiled and given an inadequate defense for a murder trial.
According to a press release from Amber Integrated, an Oklahoma-based public affairs firm advocating for Jones’ release, Kardashian became interested in the case after seeing the three-hour ABC documentary “The Last Defense,” produced by Viola Davis.
More than six million people have signed a Change.org petition asking the Pardon and Parole Board as well as Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to commute Jones’ sentence. Now it seems Kardashian is hoping to do everything in her power to help the cause.
Kardashian met with Jones on death row, accompanied by his attorney, Dale Baich. Afterward, she joined his family to get a better understanding of the circumstances of his case.
“Our family knows that Julius did not commit this murder, because Julius was at home with us at the time of the murder,” Madeline Jones, Julius Jones’ mother, said in the press release. “We were at home playing board games and eating spaghetti. The judge and jury that convicted and sentenced my son to die never heard that we were having a family game night. Julius' attorney never gave us the opportunity to tell them about where Julius was. My son did not kill anyone because he was home with his family.”
The release notes that since Jones’ conviction, the defense team has admitted that it was unprepared for the trial at the time and never presented an alibi or called any witnesses to his defense. It allegedly failed to show key evidence and Amber Integrated notes that multiple prisoners have reportedly come forward to offer sworn statements that Jones’ co-defendant in the case bragged about framing him for the crime in exchange for a lighter sentence.