Monday, November 29, 2021

Julius Jones: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt grants last minute pardon to prisoners

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Julius Jones was due to be executed for the 1999 fatal shooting of businessman Paul Howell

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt granted detainee Julius Jones a pardon and commuted his death sentence Thursday, November 18, just hours before his scheduled lethal injection. Jones was due to be executed in 1999 for the fatal shooting of Paul Howell, an Oklahoma City businessman. According to an executive order filed on November 18, the inmate’s sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment with no parole.

Jones was due to be executed at 4 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. The last time he and his lawyers were visiting, they learned of the pardon at 12:45 PM CT. For the past two weeks, Jones had been held in a cell outside the execution chamber. He was reportedly given what was considered to be his last meal on Wednesday evening, November 17th.

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One order, however, made it clear that Jones’ sentence would be commuted on condition that he “has no right to seek conversion, pardon or parole for the rest of his life, or be considered. Amanda Bass, Jones’ attorney, said the governor’s decision was “an important step in restoring public confidence in the criminal justice system by ensuring that Oklahoma does not execute innocents.”

Bass said Jones’s family and supporters had hoped he would one day be paroled. “While we were hoping the governor would fully accept the Board’s recommendation by commuting Julius ‘sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the face of overwhelming evidence of Julius’ innocence,” said Bass, “we are grateful that the governor made an irreparable mistake. “

Jones, 41, has now spent nearly 20 years on death row with numerous questions about his guilt raised. Jones has alleged that he was not guilty of the crime. Howell was shot dead in the driveway of his parents’ home in Edmond, Oklahoma, on July 28, 1999, and his daughter claimed she saw Jones shoot her father in the head. There have been allegations of innocence and controversy surrounding Jones’ trial. The inmate and his defense team have argued that he was home when the murder occurred. They also claimed that his co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, is the real killer.

A number of celebrities have advocated Jones’ pardon, including reality star Kim Kardashian, who had installed Stitt to follow the parole board’s recommendation and grant Jones a pardon. In addition to Kardashian, NBA players such as Russell Westbrook, Trae Young and Blake Griffin had also urged officials to commute the sentence. Jones’ family and supporters had pressured Stitt to commute his sentence to life imprisonment.

When Jones was granted a pardon, Howell’s family remains convinced that he killed the businessman. “We know Governor Stitt had a difficult decision to make,” the family said in a statement. “We take comfort that his decision confirmed Julius Jones’ guilt and that he is not entitled to seek or consider conversion, pardon or parole for the rest of his life.” “Julius Jones forever changed our lives and the lives of (Paul Howells) family and friends,” the statement said.

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