OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Monday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for high-profile death row inmate Julius Jones. His fate now lies in the hands of Gov. Kevin Stitt, and there is also an appeal that could lead to a stay of execution for Jones still pending.
“We did it again. Gov. Stitt wanted to go through the clemency process. We did so,” Jimmy Lawson, best friend of death row inmate Julius Jones, told News 4 on Tuesday.
Lawson watched on Monday as the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones, with a recommendation that his sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
“Our hope is that Gov. Stitt will concede with the recommendation of the pardon and parole board,” Lawson said.
Stitt will make the final decision, and he can do whatever he wants with the board’s recommendation. He can deny it, grant it or change it to a different sentence.
“Time is of the essence. That date is a date. So we are urging, urging Gov. Stitt to take action expeditiously,” Lawson said.
If Stitt denies clemency, Jones does have some legal options before that date, Nov. 18, when he’s scheduled to be executed.
“There are some plan Bs that are possible,” Lawson said.
Last week, a federal judge denied a request for a stay of execution for five death row inmates, including Jones and John Grant, who was executed on Thursday.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals essentially said while they’re considering an appeal to that decision, they would at least issue a stay for Jones and Grant, which was ultimately overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court just two hours before Grant was executed.
Technically, they’re still considering that appeal and a stay of execution for Jones could be possible. It’s also possible that if that happens, SCOTUS would overturn that decision once again.
“We’re hoping for the best case scenario,” Lawson said.
The family of Paul Howell though, who Jones was convicted of killing in 1999, is frustrated with the system that allowed for Jones to even be considered for commutation, which is a first for a death row inmate in Oklahoma.
“If he goes up and gets clemency and it’s life without parole, that doesn’t mean life without parole. What it means is he will still be eligible to go up for commutation because this board has made it a precedent now for Oklahoma, that death row inmates can go up for commutation,” Megan Tobey, Howell’s sister, said.