The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended granting clemency to Julius Jones, a man sentenced to death for a murder he says he did not commit.
Jones pleaded his case to the board less than three weeks before he’s set to be executed. The board voted 3-1 on Monday to recommend commuting Jones’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to the release from the inmate’s attorneys.
“My son Julius has been on death row for over twenty years for a murder he did not commit, and every day of that has been a waking nightmare for my family,” said Madeline Davis-Jones, in a statement through their attorney.
“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 Governor Stitt to do the same by accepting their recommendation.”
Jones, who is Black, is scheduled to be executed November 18 for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, whose sister and two young daughters were present when he was shot in the driveway of his parents’ home. But Jones, his attorneys and advocates insist he is innocent.
For nearly two decades, Jones has been on death row for a crime he did not commit, his clemency petition says, because of “fundamental breakdowns in the system tasked with deciding” his guilt, including ineffective and inexperienced defense attorneys, racial bias among his jury and alleged prosecutorial misconduct.
The same parole board recommended commuting Jones’ sentence in September.
“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. 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,” said Amanda Bass, lead counsel for Jones.
But Howell’s family and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office have rejected Jones’ innocence claims and believe he’s guilty.