Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has blocked the scheduled execution of Julius Jones, a Black man Julius Jones who has been on death row for nearly two decades. This happened on Thursday.
Jones will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole, Stitt’s office announced.
“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 said in a statement.
Julius Jones DNA
Jones, a 19-year-old University of Oklahoma student at the time, was on his way to earning a basketball scholarship when he was arrested and accused of Howell’s murder in August 1999.
Witnesses identified Jones as the gunman and linked him to Howell’s stolen vehicle, according to a transcript from Jones’ 2002 trial.
Investigators also found the murder weapon and a bandanna with Jones’ DNA in an attic space above his bedroom.
However, Jones’ defense filed a motion in Oklahoma County District Court earlier this year, requesting that the judge have the bandanna tested for his DNA in an attempt to prove his innocence. The state agreed to DNA testing, and the bandanna was sent to the defense’s lab of choice.
The conclusive results of the DNA profile show the probability of the DNA belonging to someone other than Jones is one in 110 million African Americans.
“Our responsibility as the attorneys for the state in the criminal appeals process is to follow the law with the overarching goal of always finding the truth in the appeals process,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The lab results, which indicate that Julius Jones’s DNA is present on the red bandanna, is an additional validation of the trial and appellate process in proving his guilt.
“I hope and pray this result gives the family members and loved ones of Paul Howell peace of mind. I also hope that through this process all Oklahomans who are victims of atrocious crimes know that my office will continue doing everything we can to ensure evil people who commit atrocious crimes will stay in prison.”
In the criminal appeals process, the attorney general’s office represents the state to ensure that decisions made by courts and juries are upheld.
“Those defending the murderer have disseminated misinformation and lies regarding the trial and evidence in this case,” District Attorney Prater said. “We have never been afraid of the truth. The testing by the murderer’s own DNA lab corroborates the jury’s verdict and exonerates the investigators, prosecutors, and jurors who the murderer’s defenders have slandered.
“The light of these results pierce the dark lies of the convicted murderer’s innocence.”
Paul Howell Death
Howell was killed while returning home from getting ice cream with his girls, according to prosecutors. Megan Tobey, one of his daughters, was the lone eyewitness who testified in court.
Julius Jones Protest
There were several protests tagged “Free Julius Jones” after he was arrested and to be executed.
On Wednesday, Students at John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City staged a walkout in support of Julius Jones. He was scheduled to be executed today Nov. 18 at 4 PM before Oklahoma Governor commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment.
People gathered in Oklahoma, reacting to the news of JuliusJones’s death sentence commutation.
Some Supporters of Julius Jones were also videoed singing Amazing Grace outside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Demonstrators inside the state capitol were also seen celebrating after the news.