Russell Westbrook, other NBA players band together to commute sentence for Oklahoman on death row
Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook is taking the lead in trying to commute the sentence of Oklahoma man Julius Jones, who is currently on death row after being convicted of a 1999 murder — something that Jones vehemently denies to this very day.
Westbrook was joined by Detroit Pistons veteran Blake Griffin, and Atlana Hawks guard Trae Young, as they all penned letters addressed to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and the state’s parole board. Russell Westbrook, who spent several years as part of the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to his move to the Rockets last summer, appealed for Jones’ case:
“I love Oklahoma and the time I spent there. The Oklahomans I met are empathetic, kind and just, which is why it was easy to form such a special connection with the state and its people,” wrote Westbrook, via Tres Savage of NON DOC. “Unfortunately, I am contacting you today because I believe the state’s criminal justice system is on the verge of carrying out a grave injustice, one that is inconsistent with the values of the Oklahoma I know and love.”
As for Griffin, who himself is an Oklahoma native and an alumnus of the University of Oklahoma, also expressed his incessant belief that Jones is innocent:
“I feel terrible for everyone involved in the tragic events of the summer of 1999; however, I do believe that the wrong person is being punished for this crime,” wrote Griffin. “We know Oklahoma’s justice system can be flawed, and as a Christian I see the injustice that can happen. I believe everyone is created equal in the Lord’s eyes and as such I urge you to take heart into this case.”
Young, a former OU standout, joined Westbrook and straight-up called out the legal system that “failed” Jones:
“I and so many other people have been called to raise concerns regarding Julius Jones’ case because of the many obvious ways in which the legal system failed him,” wrote Young.
Oklahoma is one of many states in the U.S. that continues to advocate the death penalty. It is undeniable that there are more than a few individuals that are wrongfully sentenced to death, and in the mind of Westbrook, Griffin, Young, and many others, they strongly believe that Jones is one of these victims.