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Death Row Inmate Julius Jones Awaits Decision After His Clemency Recommendation Is Reaffirmed
"My son Julius has been on death row for over 20 years for a murder he did not commit, and every day of that has been a waking nightmare for my family," Julius Jones' mother said.
The family of a death row inmate who has now twice been recommended for commutation for a 1999 murder is asking Oklahoma's governor this week to intervene ahead of his scheduled execution.
On Monday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board again voted to commute Julius Jones’ sentence. The five-person state parole board voted 3-1 to recommend Jones’ death sentence be downgraded to life in prison with the possibility of parole. A fifth member recused himself from voting.
“The Pardon and Parole Board has now twice voted in favor of commuting Julius Jones’s death sentence, acknowledging the grievous errors that led to his conviction and death sentence,” his attorney, Amanda Bass, said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “We hope that Governor Stitt will exercise his authority to accept the Board’s recommendation and ensure that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man.”
In September, the same parole board voted to commute Jones’ sentence. Nevertheless, days after that decision, state officials scheduled his execution for Nov. 18. Jones’ fate now rests with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who will make the final call on commutation.
"My son Julius has been on death row for over 20 years for a murder he did not commit, and every day of that has been a waking nightmare for my family," Madeline Davis-Jones, Jones’ mother, said in a statement through their attorney, according to CNN. "I am grateful to the Pardon and Parole Board for again showing they are willing to listen to facts and reason, show compassion, and do what is in their power to right this terrible wrong. Now, I am asking Gov. Stitt to do the same by accepting their recommendation."
Jones is accused of fatally shooting Paul Howell on July 28, 1999; Howell was shot in the head while sitting in the driver's seat of his Chevrolet Suburban. He was also driven over by a vehicle during the incident.
Lawyers for Jones contend that his high school peer, Christopher Jordan, was the triggerman and later planted the weapon at his family’s home. Jordan maintained his innocence during his trial but was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in Howell’s slaying.
Jones has argued that during his trial his defense team failed to call any witnesses on his behalf and forced him not to testify.
Kim Kardashian West, along with a handful of NBA players and prominent activist groups, has helped spread awareness regarding Jones’ case. His supporters say his trial was tainted largely by racism along with misconduct by both investigators and prosecutors.
Paul Howell’s daughter, Rachel Howell has blasted Jones’ argument for clemency as “completely false,” according to CNN.
"Overall, this has been extremely tough on our family, as we have continued to be re-victimized by Julius Jones when we have done absolutely nothing wrong," Howell said.
Stitt’s office wasn’t immediately available for comment regarding the parole board’s decision on Tuesday. However, a spokesperson for the governor previously said Stitt would seriously review Jones’ case for clemency.
“The governor takes his role in this process seriously and will carefully consider the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation as he does in all cases,” Charlie Hannema, the chief of communications for the governor, told Oxygen.com in September. “We will not have any further comment until the governor has made a decision.”