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Julius Jones sentence commuted

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Jones Rally

Gov. Kevin Stitt granted clemency to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Julius Jones’ execution was set for 4 p.m. and within hours of the execution, Gov. Kevin Stitt granted clemency to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Stitt announced the executive order 2021-25 commuting Jones’ sentence on the condition he will never again be eligible to apply for, be considered for or receive any additional commutation, pardon or parole, according to the statement.

"After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all side of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones' sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole," Stitt said in a statement.

Oklahoma’s pardon and parole board recommended clemency for Jones in a 3-1 vote on Nov. 1. The board in a 3-1 vote recommended Gov. Kevin Stitt to commute Jones’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole. 

Jones has been on death row for the 1999 shooting of businessman and father Paul Howell who was killed during a carjacking in his parent’s driveway, and has maintained his innocence. 

Jones' case has picked up significant national attention of several news outlets and the news of commutation elicited reactions.

"Thank you, @GovStitt. This is a complicated and difficult case with many different view of what happened and what the outcome should be, but choosing life is never the wrong decision," Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce Tweeted.

Audra Hester, an OSU senior, said she had friends participate in the protest at the capital and thought the action would not matter. 

"But when I saw that he was granted Clemency without parole, I realized that they did help even if they have more stuff to do," Hester said.

This decision comes after the execution of John Grant, who was the first person to be put to death in Oklahoma since the botched executions of Clayton Lockett in 2014 and Chares Warner in 2015. Grant reportedly convulsed and vomited during his execution. 

This marks the 5th time clemency has been granted in Oklahoma’s history. Brad Henry was the last Oklahoma governor to do so, he granted clemency three times to death row inmates. Before Stitt, over 100 executions were carried out in 24 years of combined office years for the three previous governors. 

On Wednesday, Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 to recommend clemency to Bigler Jobe Stouffer II. The clemency recommendation is for life without the possibility of parole. The board did not raise questions of his innocence, however, the members who voted for the recommendations expressed concerns over the state’s execution protocols.

In the state, multiple high schools experienced student walkouts including; PC West, PC North, Star Spencer, Choctaw, Classen SAS and Harding Preparatory High School. The rallies, walkouts, and protests focused on stopping Jones' execution.

Tyler Hays, an OSU student said he would have hoped for Jones to have a chance for parole, but a life is saved.

"I saw that he was granted Clemency and that's really good," Hays said.

news.ed@ocolly.com