It will be up to Gov. Kevin Stitt to make a life-time decision on Julius Jones ‘fate, after the Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board voted on Monday to commute Jones’ death sentence to life in prison without release conditional.
Those who wanted Jones’ death sentence commuted and those campaigning for his execution to be carried out as planned on November 18 argued their case before the parole board on Monday. Both sides have highlighted what they think of Jones’ case – and what it is not.
The council voted 3-1 to commute Jones’ sentence to life in prison without parole. Now it’s up to Stitt to make the final decision, and both sides urge their supporters to write to the governor and tell him what they think he should do.
“The only thing I know about this case is that Mr. Jones was tried and convicted and went through the entire appeal process and failed to get the case quashed,” he said. said Larry Morris, Board Member.
The “ultimate sentence” should not be administered in this case in view of the doubts that have been raised, said Kelly Doyle, member of the board of directors. Morris said he was concerned about the disparity in sentencing between Jones, who received the death penalty, and another person involved in the case who received a sentence of just 15 years behind bars.
Board members noted that their job was not to determine Jones’ guilt or innocence, but to make a recommendation to the governor regarding the appropriate sentence for the crime Jones was convicted of – murder. of Paul Howell, who was shot dead in a 1999 carjacking in his parents’ driveway, in front of his sister and two daughters.
On Monday evening, Stitt’s office released this statement: “Governor Stitt is aware of the Pardons and Parole Board vote today. Our office will not offer further comments until the governor has made a final decision. “
Jones is said to be the second person to receive the death penalty in Oklahoma since the state resumed executions last week. John Marion Grant is said to have vomited during the process. The last executions the state carried out before the executions were stopped had been administered incorrectly and a trial challenging the constitutionality of the executions in Oklahoma is ongoing.
For the first time, Jones spoke on his own behalf, joining Monday’s meeting by teleconference with his lawyer by his side.
“This is the first chance I have in over 20 years to speak about what happened and where I was the night Mr. Paul Howell was insanely murdered,” Jones said.
“I feel sorry for the Howell family and for the tragic loss of Mr. Paul Howell,” Jones said, and he wanted to acknowledge their loss. Jones said he bore the brunt of their hatred for a crime he did not commit.
“It’s not a matter of hate, it’s a matter of truth, and the truth is I didn’t shoot this man,” Jones said. “I did not kill Mr. Paul Howell. I did not participate in any way.
Jones said he fell into the wrong crowd in high school and college and turned to theft in order to have nice things his family couldn’t afford. He warned young people not to sacrifice their values for a few dollars.
“It could cost you 22 years of your life, or it could literally cause your death,” Jones said. He was guilty of theft, but had no history of violent acts, Jones said.
Howell’s sister Megan Tobey testified against Jones and supported her previous testimony. Tobey said Jones is a sociopath who has never apologized or accepted guilt and is currently manipulating others into his cause.
Rachel Howell, Paul Howell’s daughter, said she was contacted by a former Jones supporter who, after learning more about the facts of the case, now believes the fight to save him from the hallway of the death abusedly took advantage of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It doesn’t matter what color his skin is – a man killed another man,” Howell said. “Julius Jones has taken full advantage of everyone in his life and in this situation, including you, the board members here today.”
Jones supporters had held a march and vigil and greeted the news of the board’s recommendation as a victory.
The case received national attention. Following the announcement of the board’s recommendation, celebrity Kim Kardashian West, who had championed Jones, tweeted her approval.
“Thank you @GovStitt and everyone who marched for @ justice4julius today! The Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend leniency and commute Julius’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The fight is not over and he has to go home #JusticeForJulius, ”she tweeted.
At a press conference later today, Howell’s family said the ruling meant they could never get peace, as Jones will be able to request additional switch hearings and they will have to repeat the process again. and even.
State Representative Emily Virgin D-Norman, leader of the minority in the state House of Representatives, said the board had made an excellent decision.
“It shows that whenever there is any doubt about someone’s guilt, we shouldn’t use the ultimate power, the death penalty in this case,” Virgin said. “I hope Governor Stitt accepts the recommendation of the board.”