OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has spared the lifetime of high-profile dying row inmate Julius Jones.
Following a advice from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Stitt on Thursday granted clemency to Jones, lowering the inmate’s sentence to life in jail with out the potential for parole.
“After prayerful consideration and reviewing supplies introduced by all sides of this case, I’ve decided to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment with out the potential for parole,” Stitt stated in a press release.
As a situation of granting clemency, Stitt ordered that Jones shall by no means be eligible to use for or be thought-about for a commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life.
Stitt’s resolution veers barely from the Pardon and Parole Board’s advice to scale back Jones’ sentence to life in jail with the potential for parole. Underneath that state of affairs, Jones would have instantly been eligible for parole on his homicide conviction.
The governor’s resolution means Jones’ execution, set for Thursday afternoon, is canceled.
The clemency marks a partial win for a various group of Jones activists and supporters who’ve proclaimed the inmate was wrongfully convicted within the 1999 deadly taking pictures of insurance coverage govt Paul Howell throughout a carjacking .
Jurors selected the dying penalty as punishment at a 2002 trial, and Jones has spent almost 20 years on dying row.
Jones’ legal professional praised the governor for blocking the execution, however stated she had hoped Stitt would have granted her consumer the choice of parole.
“Governor Stitt took an vital step right now in direction of restoring public religion within the felony justice system by making certain that Oklahoma doesn’t execute an harmless man,” legal professional Amanda Bass stated in a press release.
Jones has maintained he’s harmless, claiming his co-defendant shot and killed Howell and pinned the slaying on him.
A rising variety of supporters have additionally proclaimed Jones’ innocence and begged Stitt to grant clemency. Hundreds of thousands signed a petition in assist of Jones after ABC in 2018 aired a documentary about his case.
Prosecutors have disputed Jones’ claims of innocence, saying the trial confirmed clear proof of his guilt and the marketing campaign to free him is predicated on misinformation.
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The Pardon and Parole Board this month beneficial Jones’ life be spared. In a 3-1 vote, the board beneficial Jones’ sentence be diminished to life in jail with the potential for parole.
Stitt had the choice to undertake, modify or reject the parole board’s advice. He additionally may have issued an execution keep that may have given him extra time to contemplate the advice.
Two of the three parole board members Stitt has appointed beneficial the governor grant Jones clemency. The third, Scott Williams, recused himself from the vote.
Stitt beforehand instructed reporters he would meet with members of the Howell household and prosecutors and protection attorneys on the case earlier than making a call.
The Howell household stated they knew Stitt had a troublesome resolution.
“We take consolation that his resolution affirmed the guilt of Julius Jones and that he shall not be eligible to use for, or be thought-about for, a commutation, pardon or parole for the rest of his life,” they stated in a press release.
Board advice:Oklahoma parole board recommends clemency for Julius Jones, faces execution Nov. 18
It’s uncommon for an Oklahoma governor to grant clemency, having solely been permitted 4 instances within the state’s historical past. Former Gov. Brad Henry granted clemency to a few dying row inmates. Former Gov. Frank Keating granted clemency simply as soon as.
Courting again to when Keating was in workplace, Oklahoma governors have denied clemency a minimum of 9 instances.
Oklahoma has one of many nation’s busiest dying chambers. Earlier than Stitt, the state carried out greater than 100 executions underneath the earlier three governors’ mixed 24 years in workplace.