OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt spared the life of a high-ranking death row inmate Julius Jones.
After a Recommendations from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole BoardOn Thursday, Stitt granted Jones clemency, reducing life sentences for prisoners without the possibility of parole.
“After prayerful deliberation and review of the documents presented by all parties to this case, I have decided to reduce Julius Jones’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole,” said Stitt. said in a statement.
As a condition of clemency, Stitt decreed that Jones would never be eligible to apply for or be considered for a pardon, pardon or amnesty for the rest of his life.
Stitt’s decision differs slightly from the Amnesty and Amnesty Board’s recommendation to reduce Jones’ prison sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Under that scenario, Jones would immediately be eligible for pardon for his murder.
The governor’s decision means Jones’ execution, set for Thursday, has been called off. Stitt announced his decision just hours before the scheduled start of his execution.
Stitt’s clemency marks part of a victory for a diverse group of activists and Jones supporters who have claimed the prisoner was wrongly convicted of the murder of a man. Edmond. Jones spent nearly 20 years on the death penalty.
However, those who have declared Jones innocent do not seem pleased with Stitt’s decision to keep the prisoner behind bars.
Jones was executed for the fatal shooting in 1999 of insurance executive Edmond Paul Howell during a carjacking.
Judges chose the death penalty as a punishment at a trial in 2002.
Jones maintains his innocence, claiming his accomplice shot and killed Howell and pinned the assassin to him.
A growing number of supporters also declared Jones innocent and begged Stitt for leniency. Millions of people signed a petition in favor of Jones after ABC in 2018 aired a documentary about his claim of innocence.
Prosecutors rejected Jones’ claim of innocence, saying the trial showed clear evidence of his guilt and that the campaign to free him was based on misinformation.
The Amnesty and Amnesty Commission this month recommended that Jones’ life be spared. In a 3-1 vote, the panel recommended that Jones’ sentence be reduced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Stitt has the choice to accept, modify or decline the parole board’s offer. He may also issue a temporary stay to give him more time to consider the offer.
Two of the three Stitt pardon board members appointed to recommend that the governor grant Jones clemency. For the third time, Scott Williams reused himself from the vote.
Stitt previously told reporters that he would meet members of the Howell family and prosecutors and defense attorneys on the case before making a decision.
He also said he would carefully consider the proposal of the board of directors.
“It’s definitely something that’s weighing on me, and it’s something that I sincerely consider,” Stitt said in September, after the board recommended a reduced sentence for Jones. “I must faithfully carry out my job as governor, and this is something I do not take lightly.”
Board recommendations:Oklahoma Amnesty Board Offers Clemency for Julius Jones, Faces Execution on November 18
It’s rare for an Oklahoma governor to issue a clemency, approved only four times in the state’s history.
Former Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, a Democrat, pardoned three death row inmates. Former Governor Frank Keating was granted clemency only once.
Since Keating was in office, Oklahoma governors have refused clemency at least nine times.
Oklahoma has one of the nation’s busiest death chambers.
Before Stitt, the state had carried out more than 100 executions under the 24 years of rule of the three previous governors.