In the high-profile case of death row inmate Julius Jones, he lives to fight another day after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt grants clemency and a reduced sentence.
Stitt’s Thursday (Nov. 18) decision arrived just hours before Jones’ scheduled execution. After consideration and a recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon Board, The Oklahoman reported Stitt reduced his sentence to life in prison without possible parole.
Jones, 41, was scheduled for execution at 4 PM central time in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. His commute comes after he’s spent more than two decades on death row for the murder of Paul Howell. Jones has maintained his innocence of the 1999 fatal shooting of Howell.
“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.
Although Jones’ commute is a step forward, it’s still less than what was hoped for, with the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voting 3-1 on Nov. 1 to recommend Stitt grant clemency and reduce Jones’ life sentence with possibilities of parole.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections shared what was supposed to be his last meal: two KFC sandwiches, one large McDonald’s fries, a Pizza Hut pizza, and bottled water.
Jones’ mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, issued the following statement:
“For over twenty years, I have been haunted by the idea of watching my baby boy die in an execution chamber for a murder that occurred when he was home with his family. I am grateful that after today’s decision by the governor, that can no longer happen.
“I still believe that every day Julius spends behind bars is an injustice, and I will never stop speaking out for him or fighting to free him. But today is a good day, and I am thankful to Governor Stitt for that.”