OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Supporters of convicted murderer Julius Jones will hold a prayer vigil Wednesday night outside the Governor’s Mansion, and are blasting Gov. Kevin Stitt for granting parole to a former Tulsa police officer who was convicted of murdering a woman with a crossbow.
Stitt signed off on paroling 69-year-old Jimmie Dean Stohler. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Stohler in March 2022.
“Jimmie Dean Stohler’s parole application came to the governor after a 4-0 recommendation from the Pardon and Parole Board in favor of paroling Mr. Stohler to the street. Governor Stitt accepted the recommendation,” Charlie Hannema, Stitt’s Chief of Communications, said in an email to KFOR.
Jones’ family and supporters are railing against Stitt’s decision to grant Stohler parole while Jones remains in prison. A candlelight vigil for Jones will be held at 8:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, April 27, outside the Governor’s Mansion.
“We have been asking the Governor for years now to meet with us, to see us, and to hear from us about Julius’s innocence. I just don’t understand this. It continues to seem like we are invisible. But my son deserves to be seen. He is a human being and this just feels so wrong. This is my baby, and he is continuing to suffer injustice,” Madeline Jones, Jones’ mother, said in a statement.
Stohler was found guilty of the 1982 murder of Michele Powers, a 30-year-old mother.
Powers was shot in the chest with a poison-tip arrow from a crossbow just outside of her Tulsa apartment.
Stitt spared the life of Jones, a high-profile death row inmate, this past November. Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 for the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell.
Jones, however, maintained his innocence. A national movement proclaiming his innocence grew through the years, pushing for Jones to be granted clemency.
Though Stitt commuted Jones’ death sentence, he set a condition that Jones never be paroled or granted future pardon. The Pardon and Parole Board previously voted in favor of recommending clemency for Jones.
“The question is, how? How does Governor Stitt release Jimmie Dean Stohler and not Julius Jones? How does a stalker who killed a woman with a poisoned arrow walk free, and an innocent man still sits in prison in Oklahoma? I know how. It’s because Stohler is a white ex-police officer and Julius is a young black man. This injustice cannot stand,” the Rev. Cece Jones-Davis said in a statement.
Jones’ sister, Antoinette Jones, also issued a statement. She expressed gratitude to Stitt for sparing her brother’s life, but hopes he will be granted clemency.
“I am going to keep praying that the Governor will give Julius back to us. He has shown us all today that he has some compassion. We implore Governor Stitt to share his compassion with Julius, with us—his family, and accept his Board’s recommendation. We appreciate everyone’s continued prayers and support. We believe in a mighty God, a God of love and truth. And we know that one day, God will deliver my brother from the injustice of this wrongful conviction,” Antoinette Jones said.