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Julius Jones: Oklahoma governor commutes sentence to life in prison


Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has spared the life of high-profile death row inmate Julius Jones by reducing his sentence from the death penalty to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jones had been scheduled for execution at 4 p.m. local time Thursday for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell.

Following a recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Stitt on Thursday granted clemency to Jones, reducing the inmate's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones' sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole," Stitt said in a statement.

As a condition of granting clemency, Stitt ordered that Jones shall never be eligible to apply for or be considered for a commutation, pardon, or parole for the rest of his life.

Stitt's decision veers from the Pardon and Parole Board's recommendation to reduce Jones' sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Under that scenario, Jones would have immediately been eligible for parole on his murder conviction.

Who is Julius Jones?

Jones, 41, has been on death row since 2002, when he was convicted for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell.

Jones was 19 at the time of the murder and still maintains his innocence, offering instead that co-collaborator Christopher Jordan committed the crime and framed Jones by placing the murder weapon in Jones' parents' house.

Jones' mother among those who protested his innocence

Jones' mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, has been one of his most outspoken supporters, asserting that Jones was with her at home during the time of Howell's murder.

Howell's sister, who witnessed her brother's murder, maintains that she saw Jones fire the gun - Jones' DNA was later found on a bandana the gun used to kill Howell was wrapped in.

Oklahoma lawmakers supported clemency

Will Joyce, mayor of Stillwater, took to Twitter to express his support for the Pardon and Parole Board's recommendation that Stitt grant Jones clemency on Wednesday, the day before Stitt made his decision to reduce Jones' sentence.

For her part, the mayor of Norman, Oklahoma, Breea Clark called out Stitt for declining to meet with Jones' mother; in a thread, she asserted "The world is watching."

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City State Representative Forrest Bennett referred to a gathering in which Jones' supporters congregated at the Capitol on Wednesday, singing songs and awaiting Stitt's decision.

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