OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference, calling on Governor Kevin Stitt to grant death row inmate Julius Jones clemency.
“This case has nothing but doubt. It’s filled with doubt,” Rep. Jason Lowe, (D) Oklahoma City, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Lowe and other members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus are calling on Governor Stitt to grant clemency to high-profile death row inmate Julius Jones.
“This young man has inserted his innocence over the last 20 years,” Lowe said.
On Monday, clemency was recommended for Jones after he spoke to the state Pardon and Parole Board for the very first time.
“I was not present during this robbery and I did not know that anyone had been killed until the day after Mr. Howell was murdered,” Jones told the board.
The board ultimately recommended Jones’ sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
The final decision is now up to Stitt. His office said earlier this week he is aware of the board’s vote and will not be commenting any further until he makes his decision.
“This is not really a press conference to talk about our values as it relates to the value of having the death penalty at all. We’re here to say hey, there’s a process in place. That process has taken its course,” Rep. Monroe Nichols, (D) Tulsa, said.
Members of the black caucus also told the media on Wednesday that they met with Jones at the state penitentiary in McAlester a few months ago.
“He bleeds just like you and I. He smiles. He laughs, and he is a human being,” Lowe said.
The four members of the Pardon and Parole Board who voted on Monday were all appointed to the board by Stitt. Three of them voted yes for clemency, and for commutation back in September.
“We’re asking the governor to do the right thing. Follow your board’s recommendation. The board that you appointed,” Lowe said.
Jones was convicted of killing Paul Howell in an Edmond driveway in 1999.
However, attorneys with D.A. David Prater, AG John O’Connor and members of the Howell family say that evidence proves Jones is the killer.
They want to see his death penalty sentence carried out.
“For this to end for us, he either needs the death penalty, which was given to him, not chosen by us but given to him as a sentence for murdering our loved one, or he will ask for commutation and we will go through this year, after year, after year,” Megan Tobey, Howell’s sister, said.