Julius Jones still waiting to be moved out of Oklahoma Death Row unit; best friend tells KFOR about reaction to commutation from Gov. Stitt

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Julius Jones has not yet been moved out of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary’s death row unit.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials confirmed to KFOR on Friday that Jones was moved to a different cell within H Unit, which is the death row unit at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Photo goes with story
Julius Jones

KFOR learned that Jones will eventually be reclassified out of death row, but currently there’s no timeline on when that will be.

Department of Corrections officials could not provide KFOR details on whether Jones’ visitation rights and other privileges will change, saying that will be determined once he’s reclassified.

There’s also a chance he could be moved to a different prison, but that’s also to be determined upon his reclassification.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to spare Jones’ life mere hours before his scheduled execution on Thursday riveted the nation.

The multitude of people who believe Jones is innocent celebrated the commutation, but many of those who believe he murdered Edmond businessman Paul Howell in 1999 were shocked.

Jones’ family, friends and supporters rejoiced at the Oklahoma State Capitol and outside the McAlester prison upon hearing the announcement. His mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, danced in celebration.

image of Jones' mother
Jimmy Lawson, a friend of Julius Jones, hugs Madeline Davis-Jones, the mother of Julius Jones, following the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board that Julius Jones’ death sentence be commuted to life in prison, during a commutation hearing for her son, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Jones was convicted in the 1999 shooting death of Paul Howell. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“I hope y’all are taking notes, because we gotta get it right this time, and after we get it right, not forget,” said Davis-Jones. “So, rest today, celebrate, tomorrow is a new day.”

Jones’ best friend Jimmy Lawson described to KFOR the moment Jones and his defense team learned about the governor’s decision.

“You know, they were in there with him, down to the brink and the attorney says, ‘Hey, we were preparing for the worst and then when we got the news, everybody was celebrating and breaking down and crying and it was one of those surreal moments.’ One of the particular attorneys says he has never experienced that before,” Lawson said.

However, Stitt’s commutation of Jones does not allow parole or future pardon.

Ed Blau, a local defense attorney, recently told KFOR it’s still too early to tell if future governors will have the power to pardon Jones.

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Paul Howell

Jones, who was 19 at the time of Howell’s murder, pleaded not guilty but was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to death. He has since maintained that he is innocent.

Support for Jones grew into a highly vocal national movement over the past 19 years, seeking “Justice for Julius,” decrying the failures of his defense team and continuously calling upon Oklahoma leaders to grant Jones a clemency hearing and commute his sentence.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Jones’ supporters are disseminating lies.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 on Sept. 13 in favor of recommending commutation for Jones. However, Stitt announced two weeks later that he would not accept the Board’s recommendation for commutation, saying “a clemency hearing, not a commutation hearing, is the appropriate venue for our state to consider death row cases.”

The clemency hearing was held on Nov. 2, and the Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones.

Howell’s family released the following statement after Stitt commuted Jones:

“We know Governor Stitt had a difficult decision to make. We take comfort that his decision affirmed the guilt of Julius Jones and that he shall not be eligible to apply for, or be considered for, a commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life.

We would like to thank the countless people in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement agencies across the state for their tireless efforts and unwavering support for the last 22 years.

Julius Jones forever changed our lives and the lives of his family and friends.”

THE HOWELL FAMILY

Davis-Jones issued the following statement after her son’s death sentence was commuted:

“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.

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.”

MADELINE DAVIS-JONES

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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