OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A group of Oklahoma pastors is praying that Governor Stitt will show mercy to death row inmate Julius Jones.
“We simply believe as believers that our state should not take a life that it cannot give,” said John A. Reed of
Fairview Baptist Church.
Members of the Baptist Ministers Association stated Governor Stitt refused to meet with them, and they decided to gather in front of the capitol in prayer.
“It was our honest and sincere desire to meet with you in person, but you have declined an in-person meeting,” said Dr. M L Jemison.
Jones proclaimed his innocence at Monday’s clemency hearing for the first time in 20 years.
“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,” said Julius Jones.
Jones was convicted for the murder of Paul Howell who was shot in front of his children in their Edmond driveway in 1999.
Howell’s family also asked Governor Stitt to move forward with Jones’ execution.
“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.
On Monday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones, recommending that his sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
But the final decision is up to Governor Stitt who can decide to take the board’s recommendation, change it, or do nothing.
If he does nothing, Jones will be executed on November 18th, which bars any last-minute stays.
The attorney representing Jones and three other death row inmates filed an appeal claiming Oklahoma’s execution protocol uses inmates as “human guinea pigs” Thursday.
KFOR tried to get a comment from the governor’s office, but we have yet to hear back.
On Monday, Governor Stitt said he would not have a comment until he had made a final decision in the case.
Faith leaders are afraid about what could happen if the governor denies clemency.
“We are also very concerned about the potential for civil unrest if the state proceeds with the execution of Julius Jones,” said Dr. M L Jemison.