Oklahoma Gov. Stitt Commutes Man Set To Be Executed In Hours

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Madeline Dovi Contributor
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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order commuting the execution of Julius Jones to a life sentence, just hours before his set execution Thursday.

Jones has been on death row for almost two decades after being tried and convicted of the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, according to a press release. Jones has always maintained his innocence.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 on Nov. 1 for Stitt to commute Jones’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole, CNN reported.

Article 6, Section 10 of the Oklahoma Constitution gives the Governor power to grant commutations “upon such conditions and with such restrictions and limitations as the Governor may deem proper.” (RELATED: Black Man On Death Row For 26 Years Exonerated After Newly-Examined Evidence Shows No Connection)

“After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” Stitt announced in a statement.

Jones’ execution was scheduled for Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. C.T., CNN reported. (RELATED: Missouri Executes Convicted Killer Despite Clemency Pleading From Pope)

Jones’ case garnered national attention after the release of 2018 ABC documentary series “The Last Defense,” according to a 2020 “Justice for Julius” press release.

Reality star and activist Kim Kardashian West became involved in the Oklahoma-based “Justice for Julius” campaign after seeing the documentary, the press release stated. She met with Julius on death row as well as members of his family in November 2020.

Actors Kerry Washington, Mandy Patinkin and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield joined Kardashian West in calling for the halting of Jones’ execution, according to CNN.

“It’s a shame it’s gotten this far,” Mayfield told reporters Wednesday, CNN reported. “Hopefully God can intervene and handle it correctly and do the things He needs to do.”

More than six million people  signed a petition asking the Pardon and Parole Board and Gov. Stitt to commute Jones’ sentence, according to a press release.

Support for Jones also went international, according to CNN. European Union representative Stavros Lambridinis asked for Jones’ sentence to be commuted in a letter to Stitt.

“We respectfully urge you to exercise all powers vested in your office to grant clemency to Mr. Julius Jones,” the letter read.

Stitt has ordered that Jones shall not be eligible to apply for or be considered for a commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life.