OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted Julius Jones’ death sentence to life in prison without parole as Jones’ execution for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell came within hours of being carried out.
“After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” said Gov. Stitt.
Pursuant to that provision, the Governor has ordered that Jones shall not be eligible to apply for or be considered for a commutation, pardon, or parole for the remainder of his life.
Madeline Davis-Jones, Julius’ mother, released the following statement today after the decision:
“For over twenty years, I have been haunted by the idea of watching my baby boy die in an execution chamber for a murder that occurred when he was home with his family. I am grateful that after today’s decision by the governor, that can no longer happen.Madeline Davis-Jones
I still believe that every day Julius spends behind bars is an injustice, and I will never stop speaking out for him or fighting to free him. But today is a good day, and I am thankful to Governor Stitt for that.”
Amanda Bass, attorney for Julius Jones also released a statement following Gov. Stitt’s decision.
“Governor Stitt took an important step today towards restoring public faith in the criminal justice system by ensuring that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man. While we had hoped the Governor would adopt the Board’s recommendation in full by commuting Julius’s sentence to life with the possibility of parole in light of the overwhelming evidence of Julius’s innocence, we are grateful that the Governor has prevented an irreparable mistake.”Amanda Bass
Jones was convicted in 2002 of murdering Howell, an Edmond businessman who was shot to death in the driveway of his parents’ Edmond home in July 1999.
Jones and his family have remained adamant that he did not murder Paul Howell.
“As God is my witness, I was not involved in any way in the crimes that led to Howell being shot and killed,” Jones said in his clemency report. “I have spent the past 20 years on death row for a crime I did not commit, did not witness and was not at.”
Jones’ supporters say he was failed by his defense team, which they say never brought up his alibi on the night of the murder.