Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delays decision on commuting death sentence of Julius Jones
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is planning to wait on making a final decision in the case of death row prisoner Julius Jones.
In a news release, Stitt announced Tuesday he will not make a final decision regarding Jones' case until after his clemency hearing before the Pardon and Parole Board on Oct. 5.
"I am not accepting the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation to commute the sentence of Julius Jones because a clemency hearing, not a commutation hearing, is the appropriate venue for our state to consider death row cases," said Stitt.
He continued, “Clemency hearings are more intensive and thorough than a commutation hearing and include the option for the inmate to speak publicly before the Pardon and Parole Board as well as the victim’s family and attorneys from both sides."
In accordance with state law, death row inmates are provided clemency hearings at least 21 days prior to their execution date. Jones has been scheduled for execution on Nov. 18.
According to the Associated Press, the last time an Oklahoma governor granted clemency to a death row inmate was Brad Henry in 2010. Former Governor Mary Fallin denied three separate recommendations by the board for clemency for death row inmates.
Jones, 41, is facing execution for the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. Jones has maintained his innocence.
Jones' legal team says he was given an inadequate defense at trial, and claim they've uncovered new evidence pointing to his innocence. Their evidence includes statements from three prisoners who claim Jones' codefendant confessed while behind bars to murdering Howell and framing Jones.
Jones' court appeals have been exhausted, and being granted clemency from Stitt is one of his last chances to escape death row.
His case has garnered national attention and support of criminal justice advocates and celebrities, after being featured in a 2018 ABC documentary.