Browns QB Baker Mayfield becomes emotional discussing Julius Jones' planned execution

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Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on Wednesday teared up while talking about the scheduled execution of Julius Jones in Oklahoma on Thursday.

Jones was convicted of first degree murder in 2002 is on death row for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, who was shot in the driveway of his parents' home.

Jones has maintained his innocence, claiming he was set up by an acquaintance who planted the gun in his home after the murder. The state's Pardon and Parole Board, after reviewing the case files and evidence, voted 3-1 this month to recommend that Jones' death sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The final decision of whether Jones will be executed by the state on Thursday comes down to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

"It's pretty rough, to be honest with you," Mayfield said on Wednesday, pausing to gather his thoughts and composure. "That's not something that's easy to talk about. Been trying to get the facts stated and the truth to be told for a while, but it's tough to think about. Tried and tried. It's a shame it's gotten this far. We're 24 hours away. It's tough. You know, hopefully God can intervene and handle it correctly and do the things He needs to do."

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield warms-up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield warms-up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Mayfield also wrote an open letter in May of 2020 showing his support for Jones' cause. In that letter, Mayfield referenced court documents that stated a juror called Jones a racial slur.

“Oklahoma has been a home to myself, my former teammates and coaches, and a place of incredible support for many years. I care deeply for the people of Oklahoma, and that is why I am eagerly writing in support of Julius Jones, a young man I believe has been wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death," Mayfield wrote at the time.

“Based on my personal review, the errors and shortcomings in Julius’ trial have been well-documented and are too numerous to be listed in this letter. The inconsistent (and unchallenged) testimony of Julius’ co-defendant, the obviously inexperienced and unmotivated defense team, and the eye-witness description of a shooter that clearly did not match Julius are by themselves enough to cast doubt on his guilt.

“Beyond the obvious shortcomings of the trial, another issue that continues to weigh on me is the obvious racial bias that permeated Julius’ arrest, prosecution, and conviction. Every American is supposed to be guaranteed a fair and impartial trial. But when your arresting officer calls you the “n-word,” when a juror calls you the “n-word” and when all of this unfolds in the context of decades of death penalty convictions slanted against black men, it is impossible to conclude that Julius received fair and impartial treatment."

Mayfield isn't alone in supporting Jones' case. NBA players Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Trae Young and Buddy Hield all wrote letters to Gov. Stitt and members of the state's Pardon and Parole Board as well.

Kim Kardashian West, the reality television star who has become a criminal justice reform advocate, has also been focused on the case. Kardashian West visited Jones last year.

"Julius, his family and everyone on his team are still hopeful Stitt will do the right thing," she Tweeted on Tuesday. "Today Julius’ family and close friends received invites to his execution. I can’t even imagine how they all must be feeling right now."

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Baker Mayfield emotional discussing Julius Jones' planned execution