A typo in the original article has been corrected.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A former death row inmate who will spend the rest of his life in prison is speaking out after Gov. Stitt granted parole for a convicted murderer.
Recently, Gov. Stitt signed off on paroling 69-year-old Jimmie Dean Stohler.
Stohler, a former Tulsa police officer, 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.
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.
Stitt spared the life of Julius 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.
Now, Julius Jones is speaking out about the decision.
“I don’t have a problem with someone being released from prison, especially if they’ve changed, and I hope that’s the case. I am glad Mr. Stohler will be able to experience freedom after 37 years. I don’t believe in life without the possibility of parole. It’s just the death penalty by another name.
But I hope people will also see that someone guilty of a truly heinous crime and who was a police officer- charged with protecting the public – is getting out, while I continue to be caged within. I am actually innocent.
Twice, I received a recommendation from the board for life with the possibility of parole. But yet still here I sit, suffering under a new death sentence. This ain’t right.”Julius Jones