Abu-Ali Abdur' Rahman a/k/a James Lee Jones, Jr., Tennessee

Updated: Monday, April 13, 2020

Abu-Ali Abdur’ Rahman, a/k/a James Lee Jones, Jr., was scheduled to be executed at 7:10 pm local time, on Thursday, April 16, 2020, at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. Abu-Ali’s sentence of death has been commuted. Sixty-nine-year-old Abu-Ali was convicted of the murder of Patrick Daniel on February 17, 1986, in Nashville, Tennessee. Abu-Ali was on death row in Tennessee for 33 years, until his commutation in August 2019.

Abu-Ali had a difficult childhood, often suffering from beatings, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and torture at the hands of his father. One of Abu-Ali’s siblings, who was also abused, committed suicide in 1997, while a third, his sister, has spent significant time in a mental institute. The family moved frequently when Abu-Ali was a child, as his father was in the military. At the age of 18, Abu-Ali spent time in a federal youth facility after being convicted of robbery. While at the facility, Abu-Ali was repeatedly raped by a gang leader, whom he eventually killed.

After being released from prison for murder, Abu-Ali eventually moved to Nashville, Tennessee and reunited with one of his brothers. He also joined the Southeast Gospel Ministry, a Black consciousness religion organization with the purported goal of improving the African-American community. Abu-Ali Abdur’ Rahman, then known as James Lee Jones, alleges that it was this religious group that sent him, along with his co-worker, Harold Devalle Miller, to the home of Patrick Daniels, a small-time marijuana dealer, in Nashville, on February 17, 1986. Upon arriving at Harold’s apartment, Jones and Miller forced their way inside and discovered Harold’s girlfriend, Norma Norman, and her two children also at the apartment.

The two children were locked in a bedroom, while Norma and Harold would bound with duct tape and blindfolded. Both were also stabbed. One of the stab wounds pierced Harold’s aorta artery, killing him. Jones and Miller had intended to simply scare Harold into the leaving the neighborhood.


Two days later, Jones and Miller were both identified as suspects by the police. Miller fled the state, while Jones continued working as if nothing was wrong. Jones claimed he had no memory of the crime. Approximately one year later, police finally arrested Miller, who agreed to testify against Jones in exchange for a 25 year sentence. Miller has since been released from prison.


While in prison, James Jones converted to Islam and changed his name to Abu-Ali Abdur’ Rahman. Since his trial, Abu-Ali has alleged that he had ineffective trial counsel, a claim which is not disputed by his trial attorney, who says that he was overworked during the trial, missed numerous filing deadlines, and found the trial date unexpectedly creeping up on him, leaving him with little time to prepare a proper defense or investigate mitigating evidence. Mitigating evidence included claims of mental incompetency and prolonged stays at mental institutions during Abu-Ali’s life, in addition to numerous mental illness diagnoses.


Supporters of Abu-Ali also point to physical evidence that was not shown jurors, which could have caused doubts abut Abu-Ali’s guilt. Supports also claim that the prosecution misled jurors to believe facts that were not true or that had been exaggerated.


Abu-Ali has had at least three previous execution dates, all of which were stayed for various reasons. On August 28, 2019, Abu-Ali, signed an agreement with Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk that would remove him from death row, in exchange for dropping the pursuit of a new trial over alleged prosecutorial misconduct and inadequate legal representation. The deal was approved by a Nashville judge, however, the state attorney general, Herbert Slatery, has since announced that he will be appealing the agreement, arguing that neither Funk, nor the Nashville judge had the authority to make and approve such a deal.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Patrick Daniel. Please pray for the family of Abu-Ali. Please pray that Abu-Ali will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.



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