Hours before Oklahoma planned to execute Julius Jones, Governor Kevin Stitt released a statement commuting his sentence. This means the execution will no longer be happening. Instead, Julius’ sentence is now life without the possibility of parole.
“After prayerful consideration and reviewing material presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” Governor Stitt wrote.
The Julius Jones Case
As previously reported, Julius was on death row for the murder of Paul Howell in July 1999. A gunman shot and killed the insurance executive in the driveway of his parents’ home. The judicial system convicted and sentenced Julius for Paul’s murder in 2002. He began serving time at age 19.
The news brings a bittersweet tone. Using a provision in the law, the governor imposed a limiting restriction. He dubbed Julius ineligible for another chance at freedom.
“Pursuant to that provision, the Governor has ordered that Jones shall not be eligible to apply for or be considered for a commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life,” the statement said.
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Governor Curves Parole Board Recommendations
Governor Stitt’s decision stands at odds with the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. The board sided with Julius in September and November. Both times members voted to commute Julius’ sentence given new evidence proving innocence. Julius’ mother expressed thankfulness at the time of the second recommendation.
“My son Julius has been on death row for over twenty years for a murder he did not commit, and every day of that has been a waking nightmare for my family,” Madeline Davis-Jones said in a statement. “I am grateful to the Pardon and Parole Board for again showing they are willing to listen to facts and reason, show compassion, and do what is in their power to right this terrible wrong”
Despite evidence, Paul’s family and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office previously rejected Julius’ innocence claims. Paul’s daughter Rachel called his narrative “completely false” in a prior statement to CNN.
This is a developing story.
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