A black man who spent nearly 20 years on death row for a crime he never committed has been granted clemency by the governor of Oklahoma after high-profile supporters around the country rallied. to protect him.
Just a few hours ago Julius Jones Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt issued an executive order Thursday, reducing his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of pardon after anti-death penalty activists and celebrities called for his life to be spared. .
In one statement, Stitt said, “After prayerfully deliberating and reviewing the documents presented by all parties to this case, I have decided to reduce the life sentence of Julius Jones without the possibility of parole.”
Jones’ attorney, Amanda Bass, celebrated the news but said they hoped Jones could receive the possibility of pardon.
“Today, Governor Stitt took an important step toward restoring public confidence in the criminal justice system by ensuring that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man,” she said. she said. “While we had hoped the Governor would fully implement the Council’s recommendation by reducing Julius’ life sentence with the possibility of pardon given the overwhelming evidence of Julius’ innocence, we are grateful. that the Governor prevented an irreparable mistake.”
Supporters in the state Capitol, who had gathered for days, broke out in cheers and tears.
Jones has convicted of murder of Paul Howell, 45, a wealthy white man, in a break-in in 1999. At the time of trial he was 19 years old for murder. Jones has asserted that he was taken by his old friend and co-defendant in the case, Christopher Jordan, who testified against Jones and considered him the shooter.
Jones was convicted in 2002 but has remained clean ever since.
In one early November hearing, Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones. The board supported his sentence being reduced to a life in prison with the possibility of a pardon.
Jones gave emotional testimony during the hearing, admitting that he made mistakes in his youth, “but I didn’t kill Mr. Paul Howell.”
Several celebrities have rallied after Jones. In 2018, Actress Viola Davis documentary film production Last Defense above Jones’ case has exposed it to a wider audience. Athletes with ties to Oklahoma, such as Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Baker Mayfield, have spoken out in support of Jones.
As the case turned hot, Steph Curry, Kerry Washington and Kim Kardashian begged Stitt to grant Jones clemency. A website was set up for Jones, Justice for Julius Jones, said that the lawsuit was filled with bias and errors, including racial discrimination from jurors. As of Thursday, the site’s online petition has garnered more than 6 million signatures.
Protests had taken place in the week before Jones was executed. The NAACP’s Oklahoma State Convention chapter advised supporters to wear black to show solidarity with Jones.
In one send an email to NBC Oklahoma City, NAACP chapter president Anthony Douglas wrote, “We wear black not only because of the injustice of Julius Darius Jones [death sentence], but also to send a clear message that if Governor Stitt chooses to execute Julius Jones, he is executing us all.”
Hundreds of students stormed out of Oklahoma City schools on Wednesday, according to reports BBC, in hopes of persuading Stitt to intervene.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/julius-jones-death-row-inmate-is-spared-by-oklahoma-gov-kevin-stitt-hours-before-execution?source=articles&via=rss Julius Jones, Death row inmate, was spared by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt hours before his execution