Oklahoma Governor Grants Clemency to Julius Jones, Commuting His Execution

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt halted Julius Jones’ execution by lethal injection just hours before he was scheduled to die, commuting his sentence to life in prison without parole.

In 2002, the 41-year-old man was sentenced to death for allegedly killing Paul Howell during a car theft three years earlier. However, he has pleaded innocent throughout.

Jones’ execution was scheduled for Thursday at 04:00 p.m. local time, nearly two decades after his conviction, at a State Penitentiary in McAlester. But Republican Governor Stitt decided to intervene “after prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case.”

It came after the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency and asked Jones’ sentence to be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Jones was one of five people who obtained a stay of execution from a three-Thursday panel from the 10th Circuit US Court of Appeal.

After exhausting his appeals, he wrote a letter to the parole board in April, saying: “I did not kill Mr. Howell.”

“I did not participate in any way in his murder; and the first time I saw him was on television when his death was reported,” Jones added.

His case has attracted the media and general public’s attention, especially after ABC’s 2018 documentary series “The Last Defense” premiered. A Justice for Julius petition claiming that he had been sentenced to death for fundamental flaws in the decision-making system has amassed more than six million signatures.

It has also drawn support from celebrities and anti-death penalty activists, including socialite and reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who has supported Jones for years.

On Thursday, Kardashian took to Twitter to thank Gov. Stitt for his decision to commute Jones’ sentence hours before his execution and others who advocated on his behalf.

In a series of tweets, she shared details of her conversations with Jones and wrote: “I’m so grateful to everyone who used their voice and helped to save Julius’s life today.”