Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt commuted the death sentence of condemned inmate Julius Jones on Thursday, the day of his scheduled execution. Jones has declared his innocence from a death sentence serving more than two decades in the 1999 murder of a suburban Oklahoma City businessman.
Stit commuted Jones’ death sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He was scheduled to be hanged on Thursday.
The state’s Pardon and Parole Board recommended in a 3–1 vote on November 1 that Stitt commute Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment, with several members of the panel agreeing that they had doubts about the evidence that led to Jones. was convicted.
Jones, 41, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1999 for shooting and killing Edmund businessman Paul Howell during a carjacking.
Jones’ case gained widespread attention in 2018, a three-episode documentary produced by actress Viola Davis, “The Last Defense,” aired on ABC in 2018. Since then, reality television star Kim Kardashian West and athletes with Oklahoma ties, including NBA stars Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Trey Young, have urged Stitt to commute Jones’ death sentence and spare his life.
Jones alleges that she was framed by the actual killer, a high school friend and former co-defendant who was a key witness against her. But Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater and the state’s former attorney general, Mike Hunter, have said the evidence against Jones is overwhelming.
Information from the trial transcripts shows that witnesses identified Jones as the shooter and placed him with Howell’s stolen vehicle. Investigators also found murder weapons wrapped in a bandana with Jones’ DNA in an attic space above his bedroom. Jones claimed in his commutation filing that the gun and bandana were planted there by the actual killer, who was inside Jones’ home after the murder.
Howell’s sister, Megan Toby, and two young daughters were in Howell’s SUV when a carjacking occurred in his parents’ driveway in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmund. Toby testifies before the board that she clearly remembers that Jones shot his brother.
Tobe said, “He’s still the same person he was 22 years ago. He’s still in trouble. He’s still in a gang. He’s still lying. And he still has no shame for his actions.” No guilt or remorse.” “We must be held accountable to Julius Jones.”