In June 2018, ABC aired its new seven-part documentary series titled, The Last Defense, produced by Viola Davis. The Last Defense tells the stories of two individuals with compelling innocence claims who are currently on death row and awaiting execution: Darlie Routier and Julius Jones.
Tonight, the series finale will air on ABC, concluding its three-episode focus on Jones’ case. In 1999, Jones was a black 19-year-old honors student at the University of Oklahoma on a full academic scholarship when he was arrested for the carjacking and murder of a white insurance executive. Two years later, at only 21-years-old, Jones was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death—a crime that, to this day, Jones maintains he did not commit.
In its re-examination of Jones’ case, the series explores many themes that appear in many wrongful conviction cases: racism, incentivized witness testimony, prosecutorial misconduct and inadequate trial defense.
“Julius Darius Jones was convicted in Oklahoma in a racially charged trial based on dubious informant testimony — the leading cause of wrongful convictions in capital cases,” wrote executive producers Vanessa Potkin and Aida Leisenring in a letter to the New York Times. “His co-defendant, who served 15 years, fit the perpetrator’s description. Mr. Jones did not.”
According to the New York Times, Jones’ episodes tell a more “depressingly familiar story” in that Jones “regardless of his guilt or innocence, did not receive close to the best possible defense from the public defenders who represented him and that the system rigidly resists admitting any possible mistakes.”
The finale will discuss Jones’ attorneys’ current efforts to prove his innocence—which involve DNA testing a red bandana found at the scene and arguing that racial bias played a role in Jones’ conviction—before Oklahoma resumes its executions, which could occur by the end of the year.
Tune in to ABC tonight at 10 PM eastern time to learn more about Jones’ case and the factors that contribute to an innocent man being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.
Watch the previous episodes here.