Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott wrote to the governor of Oklahoma to advocate for the release of Julius Jones, a Black death row inmate, according to TIME's Sean Gregory, who obtained a copy of the letter that was sent Thursday.
"Current events are shining a much-needed light on deep-seated prejudices and systemic mistreatment of Black people, and it is my sincere hope that the cultural movements of today will lead to significant social changes that will create a better tomorrow," Prescott wrote. "To that end, you all are in the unique position of being able to make a direct impact by addressing a specific miscarriage of justice."
Prescott added he experiences daily racial injustices, "even as an athlete with celebrity status."
In 2002, Jones was sentenced to death for the 1999 murder of 45-year-old white businessman Paul Howell during a carjacking. Howell was shot in the head while sitting in a vehicle in his parents' driveway in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Jones, who was 19 in 1999, has maintained his innocence. His family has claimed he could not have committed the murder as he was at home playing board games at the time of the crime.
"After reviewing the facts of the Julius Jones case, I firmly believe the wrong person is being punished for this terrible crime; furthermore, an evaluation of the process that led to Mr. Jones' conviction raises serious legal and ethical concerns," Prescott wrote. "I implore you to right this wrong. Please don't let another innocent Black man die from the systemic mistreatment that has plagued our nation for far too long."
Jones' case gained national attention following a 2018 docuseries, "The Last Defense," and an online petition to have him freed has since gained six million signatures.
Advocates for Jones have said the conviction should be overturned due to potential racial bias from the jury, the inexperience of Jones' defense attorney, and a failure to properly investigate the crime.
Jones' execution date has yet to be set, but he has exhausted all appeal options.