Oklahoma governor commutes Julius Jones’ death sentence

Oklahoma governor has reduced Julius Jones’ death sentence.

PHOTO: China Photos/Getty Images

  • Julius was convicted of fatally shooting insurance executive Paul Howell during a 1999 carjacking in his driveway.
  • Jones’ lawyers have cited evidence that he was home with his family when the murder occurred.
  • His death sentence has been reduced to life in prison without the possibility for parole.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Thursday halted the execution of death-row inmate Julius Jones, hours before he was scheduled to be put to death for a 22-year-old murder in which doubts about his guilt have been raised.

The move came amid an outpouring of appeals to Stitt to stop Jones’ execution, which had been set for 16:00 on Thursday. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 earlier this month to recommend that Stitt commute his sentence to life in prison.

Among those who have taken an interest in the case is celebrity Kim Kardashian West, who issued a series of tweets calling for Jones’ sentence to be commuted.

A number of evangelical leaders and a handful of Republican state lawmakers, including state Representative John Talley, also questioned Jones’ guilt and urged the governor, a fellow Republican, commute his sentence.

Jones, 41, who was convicted of fatally shooting insurance executive Paul Howell during a 1999 carjacking in his driveway, was among five condemned inmates who won stays of execution from a three-estimate panel of the 10th Circuit US Court of Appeals on 27 October.

But the US Supreme Court lifted the stays the next day, allowing the state to begin again executions for the first time since 2015 by putting to death Grant, another of the five inmates, hours later.

Grant had been a plaintiff in a lawsuit set to go to trial next year challenging the three-drug protocol that ended his life as inhumane, but the state refused to postpone his execution.

Jones’ lawyers have cited evidence that he was home with his family when the murder occurred, which they said the jury never learned because his lawyers at the time failed to fully probe it.

On Wednesday morning, dozens of students from each of several Oklahoma City high schools walked out of classes to demonstrate their sustain for clemency, local media reported.


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