Paul Howell’s family weighs in on Gov. Stitt’s Julius Jones commutation decision

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The latest developments in the death penalty case of Julius Jones. On Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt saying a “clemency hearing” set for October 26th is the appropriate way to make a final review of his case. His execution is scheduled for November 18th. And now the family of the murder victim, Paul Howell, is weighing in.

Governor Stitt issued this statement on Tuesday saying–

“I am not accepting the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation to commute the sentence of Julius Jones because a clemency hearing, not a commutation hearing, is the appropriate venue for our state to consider death row cases.

Clemency hearings are more intensive and thorough than a commutation hearing and include the option for the inmate to speak publicly before the Pardon and Parole Board as well as the victim’s family and attorneys from both sides.

The precedent in Oklahoma is for death row inmates to receive the clemency hearings to which they are entitled prior to their execution date.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt

On Wednesday, the family of murder victim Paul Howell responded to the governor’s decision, releasing this statement–

“Our family is encouraged by both Governor Stitt’s decision to reject the commutation recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and by Attorney General O’Connor’s decision to move forward and request an execution date for Julius Jones…which was set by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for November 18, 2021. This will finally allow for Jones’s entitled Clemency hearing to proceed.

However, our family also realizes that the Clemency hearing for Julius Jones will be held before the same Pardon and Parole Board members that irresponsibly and recklessly recommended his commutation. We can only hope that this time they will follow the established rules without bias and represent our family and the people of Oklahoma with impartiality…but honestly, we do not expect a different outcome from the board.

The guilt of Julius Jones for the murder of Paul Howell remains overwhelming and undeniable, and all the lies and misinformation spread by his supporters will never change that Truth. We have faith that Governor Stitt will thoroughly review the facts of this case, accept the conclusions of the courts and jurors, and finally hold Julius Jones accountable for his crimes.”

The Family of Paul Howell

Stitt’s decision coming just two days after KFOR’s Flashpoint aired Sunday morning.

Guest Drew Edmondson– who is a former Oklahoma Attorney General and was Stitt’s opponent in the 2018 gubernatorial election saying what he would do if he were governor.

“We participated in a lot of clemency hearings and once the execution date is set, the inmate is entitled to a clemency hearing where the Pardon Parole Board can determine based on his entire record whether or not mercy is called for, whether or not clemency should be recommended. But typically, a commutation takes place when there’s been a change in the law and there’s been no change in the law in this case,” Edmondson said. “So, if I were Governor, I would reject a call for commutation and tell the Pardon Parole Board whether or not you should consider and if the Pardon Parole Board recommends clemency then I would take a look at their arguments at that point in time.”

We asked Governor Stitt’s office twice specifically if he has met with Paul Howell’s family and with the family or supporters of Julius Jones.

We were referred to an Oklahoman article saying Stitt is likely to meet with members of the Howell family and might with attorneys for Jones. The article goes on to say Stitt has asked former Oklahoma governors how they handled similar situations.

KFOR wanted to see what kind of advice the former governors may have given to Stitt. KFOR’s Kevin Ogle reached out to them, but former governors Frank Keating, Brad Henry, David Walters, and Mary Fallin told Ogle they have not spoken to Stitt about this issue.

News 4 heard back from former Governor George Nigh on Thursday. He also told KFOR’s Kevin Ogle he has not heard from the governor’s office.

We also tried to talk with Jones’ team today and were told they are waiting until closer to the clemency hearing to speak.

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Jones’ clemency hearing is set for October 26th and his execution is set for November 18th.

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