Oklahoma governor grants clemency to Julius Jones, halting his execution

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Jones’ sentence will probably be commuted to lifestyles in jail with out the potential for parole, in step with an government order filed Thursday.

Jones was once scheduled to be finished at 4 p.m. CT on the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Jones and his legal professionals discovered in regards to the clemency at 12:45 p.m. CT whilst having their ultimate seek advice from.

Jones were in a retaining cellular outdoor the execution chamber for the previous two weeks, the legal professionals mentioned, and he gained his ultimate meal Wednesday night time. They didn’t supply main points on what was once within the meal.

An huge sense of aid broke free when the scoop arrived that Jones would no longer be finished, in step with the legal professionals.

The Republican governor got here to the verdict following “prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case,” he mentioned in a remark on Twitter.
Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board had really useful Jones’ sentence be commuted to lifestyles in jail with the potential for parole in a 3-1 vote on November 1.

However, in his government order, Stitt mentioned neither the state charter nor state regulation give the board the authority to suggest that commutation, nor do they provide the governor the authority to grant it. As a end result, the governor was once commuting Jones’ sentence with the situation that he “shall not be eligible to apply for or be considered for a commutation, pardon, or parole for the remainder of his life,” the order says.

Who is Julius Jones, scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma?

In her personal remark, Jones lawyer Amanda Bass known as the governor’s resolution an “important step towards restoring public faith in the criminal justice system by ensuring that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man.”

But she stated Jones’ circle of relatives and supporters had was hoping he would possibly get parole in the future.

“While we had hoped the Governor would adopt the Board’s recommendation in full by commuting Julius’s sentence to life with the possibility of parole in light of the overwhelming evidence of Julius’s innocence,” Bass mentioned, “we are grateful that the Governor has prevented an irreparable mistake.”

The Eleventh-hour resolution comes after years of protest over Jones’ demise sentence. He were convicted of the 1999 homicide of Paul Howell all over a carjacking. Jones has been on demise row for almost twenty years, however he, his circle of relatives, legal professionals and supporters say he’s blameless.

Jones’ clemency petition says he is been on demise row on account of “fundamental breakdowns in the system tasked with deciding” his guilt, together with useless and green protection legal professionals, racial bias amongst his jury and alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

Howell’s circle of relatives stays satisfied of his guilt, reiterating that trust in a remark.

“We know Governor Stitt had a difficult decision to make,” the circle of relatives mentioned. “We take comfort that his decision affirmed the guilt of Julius Jones and that he shall not be eligible to apply for, or be considered for, a commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life.”

“Julius Jones forever changed our lives and the lives of (Paul Howell’s) family and friends,” the remark mentioned.

Supporters protested at governor’s mansion

Jones’ case has attracted in style consideration lately, partially because of the ABC documentary collection “The Last Defense,” which spotlighted his case in 2018. And greater than 6 million other folks have signed a web-based Change.org Justice for Julius petition asking Stitt to interfere and save you his execution.
Madeline Davis-Jones and other family members and friends talk to reporters Wednesday at the Capitol in Oklahoma City
That give a boost to has handiest ramped up with the approaching execution date. Supporters have collected close to the governor’s mansion in Oklahoma City over the last few nights, and a few even arrange tents in a single day, CNN associate KOCO reported.

At a information convention Wednesday night time, Jones’ mom described her son’s scheduled execution as a lynching.

“If you think Julius is guilty, give him a fair trial. Do it over again, do it right!” Davis-Jones mentioned as the group erupted in applause. “If my child is executed tomorrow or any day, it should be without a doubt. Not even a little bit of doubt.”

Reality TV big name Kim Kardashian — who has lengthy advocated in opposition to Jones’ demise sentence — actors Kerry Washington and Mandy Patinkin, or even skilled athletes like Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had been the usage of their voices in calling for the governor to spare Jones.

“It’s a shame it’s gotten this far,” Mayfield informed newshounds Wednesday as he teared up. Mayfield performed soccer on the University of Oklahoma. “Hopefully, God can intervene and handle it correctly and do the things He needs to do.”

Oklahoma parole board recommends clemency for Julius Jones, who is scheduled to be executed for murder he says he didn't commit

Support for Jones has additionally long past world, with a consultant from the European Union weighing in by means of a letter to Stitt.

“We respectfully urge you to exercise all powers vested in your office to grant clemency to Mr. Julius Jones,” wrote Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Ambassador to the USA.

The NAACP and the Oklahoma American Civil Liberties Union launched statements praising the governor’s resolution Thursday.

The NAACP mentioned there may be a lot paintings to be accomplished and is hard a retrial.

“Although we can find some comfort in his decision, this story does not end here,” mentioned Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO. “We demand a retrial. His case is just one example of our country’s long history of denying due process to Black men and women. We will continue to advocate for Julius and the countless others who are victims of a broken system. “

Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, mentioned in a remark it’s time to finish the demise penalty.

“The racism that tainted Mr. Jones’ case is a shameful and intractable feature of the death penalty’s administration in the United States,” Stubbs mentioned. “It is beyond time to end America’s failed experiment with the racist and unequal death penalty.”

Victim’s daughter says the circle of relatives has been ‘re-victimized’

Howell was once killed in a carjacking the night time of July 28, 1999. Around 9:30 p.m., Howell, his grownup sister and his daughters pulled into his oldsters’ driveway in his 1997 Suburban, in step with court docket paperwork. Howell’s sister informed his daughters to collect their assets and was once exiting the car when she heard a gunshot, court docket paperwork say.

Paul Howell, right, is seen in this undated family photo with his daughter Rachel.

Howell’s sister glanced again, court docket paperwork say, and noticed a Black guy who she mentioned was once dressed in denims, a white T-shirt, a black cap and a pink bandana over his face. The shooter fired once more as Howell’s sister and his daughters ran to the home, paperwork say. Howell died about 1:45 the following morning.

Jones, 19 on the time, was once arrested on July 31, the day after government discovered the homicide weapon wrapped in a pink bandana within his circle of relatives’s house.

He was once attempted along a co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, who was once sentenced to 30 years in jail after pleading in charge to first-degree homicide and conspiracy to devote a theft, according to on-line court docket information. Jordan testified in opposition to Jones, who was once convicted and sentenced to demise.

Family and supporters of Julius Jones are putting pressure on Oklahoma's governor to grant clemency with tomorrow's pending execution

Howell’s daughter, Rachel Howell, and her circle of relatives consider Jones is in charge of her father’s homicide. She mentioned in a remark to CNN that Jones, his circle of relatives and the protection group “want people to believe that Julius Jones is completely innocent, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence against him.”

“Overall, this has been extremely tough on our family,” she mentioned, “as we have continued to be revictimized by Julius Jones when we have done absolutely nothing wrong.”

Davis-Jones, Julius Jones’ mom, has mentioned the ultimate twenty years had been “a waking nightmare for my family,” however she mentioned she’s going to stay the Howell circle of relatives in her prayers.

“I know what it is like to have a loved one ripped away from you and to constantly relive that loss. I hope and pray they find healing and peace,” Davis-Jones mentioned.

There are conflicting tales in regards to the proof in Jones’ case

The case has been marked by way of stark conflicts over the proof in opposition to Jones, in addition to questions in regards to the reliability of the testimony of his co-defendant.

First, there is the alibi. Jones’ circle of relatives mentioned he was once house the night time of the homicide, in step with the clemency petition.

Then-Attorney General Mike Hunter’s workplace mentioned the alibi was once completely investigated and located to not be credible, including the declare was once explored in an evidentiary listening to ordered by way of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

Jones himself was once inconsistent about the place he was once the night time of the homicide, the AG’s workplace mentioned, including two of Jones’ trial legal professionals testified he informed them his circle of relatives was once unsuitable and he was once no longer house when Howell was once killed.

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Another level of competition has been over a pink bandana, which was once discovered within Jones’ circle of relatives house with the homicide weapon wrapped in it.

The clemency petition cites a number of people who mentioned Jordan admitted to killing Howell and hiding the weapon and bandana within Jones’ area.

The petition additionally mentioned Jordan spent the night time on the house an afternoon after the homicide.

Jordan was once launched from jail in 2014, in step with Jones’ clemency petition. An lawyer for Jordan, Billy Bock, informed ABC News in September that “Chris Jordan maintains his position that his role in the death of Paul Howell was as an accomplice to Julius Jones. Mr. Jordan testified truthfully in the jury trial of Mr. Jones and denies ‘confessing’ to anyone.”

The AG’s workplace pointed to DNA checking out accomplished on the protection’s request at the pink bandana. The effects, the workplace mentioned in a file launched in July 2020, indicated the key element of the DNA profile matched Jones and excluded Jordan.

In reaction, Jones’ group mentioned the DNA exams effects have been restricted, and Jordan’s DNA may no longer be excluded.

The jury was once additionally no longer proven a photograph of Jones, taken days ahead of Howell’s killing, that the petition says would have proven he didn’t fit the shooter’s description. Several jurors have come ahead and indicated this proof would possibly have modified the result of the case.

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Then there is the problem of alleged racial bias within the case. According to the petition, one juror mentioned they heard some other juror confer with Jones because the n-word. Additionally, when Jones was once arrested, a police officer also referred to as him the n-word, the petition alleges.

The AG’s workplace contests claims of racial bias, noting the juror who claimed to have heard some other use the n-word didn’t in particular lift the problem all over Jones’ trial. She had dropped at the court docket’s consideration some other remark made by way of a juror, however according to the AG’s workplace, an appellate discovered it not going the juror would fail to say the racial epithet when she’d reported the opposite remark.

Jones and his supporters, on the other hand, have in a similar fashion repudiated those arguments.

Correction: An previous model of this tale incorrectly attributed a quote. It was once the clemency petition that said Julius Jones has been on demise row on account of “fundamental breakdowns in the system tasked with deciding” his guilt.

CNN’s Raja Razek, Theresa Waldrop, Ashley Killough, Ed Lavandera, Amy Simonson and Claudia Dominguez contributed to this document.

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