Published On: Mon, Sep 13th, 2021

Julius Jones’ death sentence in 1999 Oklahoma murder should be commuted, panel finds

The death penalty case of Julius Jones, which has caught the attention of people across the country, including multiple celebrities, was recommended for commutation by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Monday. It is now up to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt whether to change Jones’ sentence to something other than death.

“I believe in death penalty cases there should be no doubt, and put simply, I have doubts in this case,” said Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Chairman Adam Luck. “I cannot ignore those doubts, especially when the stakes are life and death.”

The board voted 3 to 1, with a fifth member recusing himself, in favor of Jones’ commutation.

“I don’t have a lot of words, I’m just thanking God,” said Antoinette Jones, Julius Jones’ younger sister, moments after the board’s decision as she and her family headed to their church to pray.

Carly Atchison, a spokeswoman for Stitt, said he “takes his role in this process seriously and will carefully consider the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation as he does in all cases.”

Jones, who is Black, has been on death row for nearly two decades, following the murder of Paul Howell, a white insurance executive, who was shot in his parents’ driveway as he, his sister and his two young daughters were returning from getting ice cream on a July night in 1999. Howell was also run over as the perpetrator fled the scene.

At the trial and in the two decades since the murder, Jones has maintained his innocence. Jones’ supporters have said the case was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct and racism, and that new evidence supports his claims of innocence.

Jones’ case has found support among celebrities including Kim Kardashian and James Corden and professional athletes Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin. It has also helped galvanize criminal justice advocates in Oklahoma.

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