Oklahoma: Julius Jones’ death sentence commuted on day of his execution
Oklahoma state Governor Kevin Stitt has pardoned inmate Julius Jones, who was scheduled to be executed Thursday night. Acting on the recommendation of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, Stitt, a Republican, acted just hours before the scheduled execution.
Stitt reduced Jones’ sentence for the 1999 murder of a businessman to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The clemency board had recommended life in prison with the possibility of parole earlier this month.
The 41-year-old Jones, who has maintained his innocence for more than two decades, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state prison in McAlester. The impending execution had sparked protests across Oklahoma and the United States.
Before making his decision, Stitt met with Jones’ attorneys and the victim’s family. Jones’ mother had tried unsuccessfully to meet Stitt on Monday.
Jones claims the actual killer, a high school friend and co-defendant who testified against him and was released after 15 years, framed him. The Board of Pardons and Paroles twice voted 3-1 to pardon Julius Jones.
In a separate vote Wednesday, the panel voted 3-2 to pardon another death row inmate, Bigler Stouffer, citing concerns about the state’s lethal injection protocols. Stouffer is scheduled to be executed Dec. 9.
Oklahoma last month ended a six-year execution moratorium prompted by concerns about lethal injection methods. John Marion Grant was convulsing and vomiting when he was executed Oct. 28.