TSR Updatez: Supporters of Julius Jones and his family are celebrating today after the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended granting clemency to Julius, who is weeks away from being executed for a murder he says he did not commit.
In late September, TSR Investigates brought you Julius Jones’ story. He was 19 when he was arrested for the 1999 murder of Oklahoma businessman Paul Howell and has been on death row since his conviction and subsequent sentencing in 2002.
Julius, his family and supporters argue there is strong evidence that proves he was wrongfully convicted and it appears the board agrees, voting 3-1 on Monday to recommend commuting Julius’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole, CNN reports.
“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,” said Madeline Davis-Jones, in a statement through their attorney. “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. Now, I am asking Gov. Stitt to do the same by accepting their recommendation.”
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt gets the final say on Jones’ fate. His office told CNN he is aware of the board’s action and there will be no further comment until his decision.
Julius is scheduled to be executed November 18 for the murder of Paul Howell, whose sister and two young daughters were present when he was gunned down in the driveway of his parents’ home.
Julius’ clemency petition lists a number of reasons for his innocence including “fundamental breakdowns in the system tasked with deciding” his guilt such as ineffective and inexperienced defense attorneys, racial bias among his jury and alleged prosecutorial misconduct.
The same parole board recommended commuting his sentence in September.
“The Pardon and Parole Board has now twice voted in favor of commuting Julius Jones’s death sentence, acknowledging the grievous errors that led to his conviction and death sentence. We hope that Governor Stitt will exercise his authority to accept the Board’s recommendation and ensure that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man,” said Amanda Bass, lead counsel for Julius Jones.
On the other hand, Howell’s family and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office have rejected Julius’ innocence claims and believe he’s guilty. In a previous statement to CNN, Howell’s daughter Rachel called the narrative about Julius’ case “completely false” and evidence shows he is guilty.
Ultimately, the decision for clemency lies with the governor, who said in a letter to the parole board last month that he would not make a decision based on their recommendation Julius Jones’ sentence be commuted, saying instead a clemency hearing would be the “appropriate venue” for his case to be considered.
We’ll keep you posted on any updates.