TSR Update: Supporters of Julius Jones and his family are celebrating today after the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended pardoning Julius, who is weeks away from being executed for a murder he says he did not commit.
In late September, TSR Investigates brought you the Julius Jones story. He was 19 when he was arrested for the 1999 murder of businessman Paul Howell, and has been on death row since his conviction and subsequent sentencing in 2002.
Julius, his family and supporters argue that there is strong evidence to show that he was unjustly convicted and the board appears to agree to vote 3-1 on Monday to recommend that Julius’ sentence be commuted to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, CNN reports.
“My son Julius has been on death row for over twenty years for a murder he did not commit, and every single day of those crimes has been a nightmare for my family,” Madeline Davis-Jones said in a statement through their attorney. “I am grateful to the Pardon and Parole Board for showing once again that they are willing to listen to facts and reason, show empathy, and do whatever they can to right this grave error. Now, I ask Governor State to do the same by accepting their recommendation.”
Oklahoma Governor Kevin State gets the final say on Jones’ fate. His office told CNN that it is aware of the board’s actions and there will be no further comment until its decision.
Julius is scheduled to be executed on November 18 for the murder of Paul Howell, whose sister and two young daughters were present when he was shot dead in the driveway of his parents’ home.
Julius’ pardon petition lists a number of reasons for his innocence including “fundamental malfunctions in the system tasked with deciding” his guilt such as ineffective and inexperienced defense counsel, racial bias among the jury and alleged prosecutor’s misconduct.
The parole board recommended a commutation of his sentence in September.
“The Pardon and Parole Board has voted twice to commute Julius Jones’ death sentence, acknowledging the serious wrongs that led to his conviction and death sentence. We hope Governor State will exercise his authority to accept the Board’s recommendation and ensure that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man.”
On the other hand, Howell’s family and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office have rejected Julius’ innocence allegations and believe he is guilty. In an earlier statement to CNN, Howell’s daughter Rachel called the narrative about Julius’ case “completely false” and evidence shows he is guilty.
Ultimately, the decision to pardon is up to the governor, who said in a letter to the Parole Board last month that he would not make a decision based on their recommendation to commute Julius Jones’ sentence, saying instead that a pardon hearing would be “appropriate.” place” to consider his case.
We will keep you posted on any updates.