BEREA, Ohio — For more than a year, Baker Mayfield has been among the number of athletes with connections to Oklahoma fighting to stop the execution of death row inmate Julius Jones.
But with Jones' execution still scheduled to take place on Thursday, Mayfield's tone took a different -- and more desperate -- tone.
“Yeah, that is pretty rough to be honest with you," a noticeably emotional Mayfield answered when asked about the matter on Wednesday. "That is not something that is easy to talk about. I have been trying to get the facts stated and the truth to be told for a while, but it is tough to think about. Tried and tried. It is a shame that it has gotten this far."
Jones' scheduled execution comes as the result of his 2002 conviction of first-degree murder, for the killing of businessman Paul Howell in 1999. Despite the conviction, Jones has maintained his innocence, with several factors, including inconsistencies in the description of the shooter and potential racial bias in the jury, raising doubts about his conviction.
Jones' case has received national attention since 2015 when Oklahoma temporarily ceased executions following the mishandling of two separate cases. In the time since, Jones has been the subject of documentaries and TV specials, with a group of athletes with Oklahoma connections, including Mayfield, forming the Julius Jones Coalition in an effort to convince Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to stop the execution.
"We are 24 hours away," Mayfield said on Wednesday. "It is tough. Hopefully, God can intervene, and handle it correctly and do the things he needs to do.”
The days leading up to Jones' scheduled execution on Thursday has led to increased attention and calls from other athletes and celebrities to stop it. On Wednesday, students in multiple Oklahoma school districts walked out in protest of Jones' execution, which is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. CT. on Thursday.