Community activists had thought they had more than enough signatures on petitions calling for an investigation of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.
They needed 5,000 signatures from voters for a county grand jury to be convened. They had collected more than 7,200.
The Oklahoma County Election Board, though, determined they fell short after checking the signatures against voter rolls.
Only 4,666 signatures were certified as valid, the Election Board secretary, Doug Sanderson, reported Thursday.
Activists sought the grand jury investigation to get Prater removed from office.
They alleged he acted improperly in his efforts to keep Julius Jones on death row. They specifically complained he tried to intimidate the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
“We are deeply disappointed in how DA Prater has continuously tried to help kill Julius and make life unbearable for him and us,” the inmate's sister, Antoinette Jones, told reporters Dec. 6 when the petitions were turned in.
Prater in October said he will never cease advocating for justice in every case that he is responsible for. "That is my duty and I will continue to be aggressive in the pursuit of justice," he said.
Jones, 41, was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of Paul Howell during a 1999 carjacking in Edmond. He claims he is innocent.
"I wasn't involved in it in any way. I wasn't present. I didn't even know he had been killed until after the fact," he said at his clemency hearing Nov. 1.
Stitt commuted Jones' death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His family said afterward they will continue their work to bring him home someday.
"We will never give up that fight,” his sister said.
Activists expressed disappointment in the outcome of the signature checks. It is too late under the law for them to gather more.
"We will be looking at this very closely and considering next steps," Jess Eddy said. "This process has no transparency whatsoever."
Prater was first elected in 2006 and is retiring in January 2023 after completing his final term.
Grand jurors cannot remove a public official directly but can make accusations for removal. An accused official would then be entitled to a trial on the accusations before a regular jury.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Petition drive falls short for grand jury investigation of DA