Julius Jones' Death Sentence Commuted Hours Before Scheduled Execution
Jones has maintained his innocence in the 1999 killing of businessman Paul Howell.
November 17, 2021 at 5:59 pm
Gov. Kevin Stitt has commuted Julius Jones' death sentence to life without the possibility of parole, KOCO News reports.
“After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’s sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
Jones, 41, was on death row after being found guilty for the fatal shooting of businessman Paul Howell during a carjacking in Edmond, Oklahoma, in 1999. Jones has maintained his innocence, yet was slated for execution on Thursday.
The state's Pardon and Parole Board recommended for the Oklahoma man's sentence to be commuted twice.
Antoinette Jones, Julius’ sister, sat outside the governor’s office with influential leaders for her brother's benefit, only to be told that Stitt was out of reach for face-to-face communication.
Oklahoma plans to execute #JuliusJones on Thursday despite a parole board twice recommending the governor grant him clemency.
Jones says he was framed for a 1999 murder. Legal experts say he did not match witness descriptions, his alibi was ignored and a juror called him a slur. pic.twitter.com/paOi04ZE7q
— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 18, 2021
"I am here on behalf of my family,” she said, according to The Oklahoman. “I feel like if he [Stitt] can meet with the Howell family, then he can definitely meet with the Jones family.”
"As citizens of Oklahoma, he is for the people, not just for certain particular people,” Antoinette said, adding that "[Stitt] said he was going to make a decision swiftly. I'm just wondering what 'swift' means to me. We're asking that he takes the recommendation of his pardon and parole board.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes took aim at Stitt’s humanity, asking in a letter for Julius’ sentence to be commuted.
In his letter, he asked for Stitt to give Julius another opportunity to live his life as a free man.
“While this case has garnered national attention, it is not from that outcry that I appeal to you today, but one of genuine concern for this individual case and the loss that has ensued,” he wrote.
Another letter was sent to Stitt by National African American Clergy Network, stating, “As ministers of the Gospel, our hope relies on the justice and mercy of God found in Jesus Christ.”
“As clergy, we believe an injustice has occurred, and we are calling on your authority to correct it,” he added.