NOTE: This story has been updated to include District Attorney David Prater’s statement to KFOR following the Supreme Court’s decision.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s request to disqualify two members of the Pardon and Parole Board.
Prater requested Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle be disqualified from Julius Jones’ commutation hearing, which is scheduled for Monday. Jones is on death row for the murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell.
The District Attorney issued the following statement to KFOR on Friday evening:
“The State is prepared to present the truth of the circumstances of Paul Howell’s senseless murder. If the Board objectively considers the truth, they will quickly vote to deny the killer’s commutation request.”DAVID PRATER, OKLAHOMA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
In court filings, Prater points to their work with a group that seeks to reduce Oklahoma’s prison population. He says money also plays a role, claiming the more people who join their non-profit, the more contributions they’ll have.
Prater also says Luck has posted about criminal justice reform on social media.
“I cannot fathom going to the parole board and conducting a hearing in front of these two people who we have sought to disqualify and the public at large believing that we’re getting a fair hearing,” Sandra Howell Elliot, attorney for the state, said in the referee hearing.
Attorneys for Luck and Doyle argue they have the background needed to be a on a parole board. Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed them, knowing the expertise they have. They also say the money argument is faulty.
Plus, what the parole board decides is a recommendation, and the governor makes the final decision
Attorneys argue members can have personal thoughts while still being impartial when serving on the parole board.
“The Pardon and Parole Board holds hearings all the time with Mr. Luck and Ms. Doyle on the board, and if they were as biased as petitioner is trying to get this court to believe, everybody that comes before the board would granted relief,” Michael Lieberman, attorney for the respondents, said.