The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 on Monday to recommend changing Julius Jones’ death sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Jones was 19 when he was convicted of the murder of businessman Paul Howell in 1999. Jones has always maintained his innocence and his family said he was with them at home when the murder took place. He is due to be executed on November 18, and in the plea for pardon, his lawyers said Jones was found guilty of “fundamental breakdowns in the system,” including an ineffective and inexperienced public defender and alleged misdemeanor, CNN reports. A jury also emerged later, saying he heard another jury refer to Jones as the n-word, the petition said, and several people have said Jones’ co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, admitted he killed Howell.
Howell’s daughter, Rachel, told CNN she believes the evidence proves Jones is guilty and her family is being “sacrificed” by Jones. Jones’ mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, said Monday that she knows “what it’s like to have a loved one torn away from you and constantly relive that loss,” and she hopes and prays that the Howell family is able to “find healing and peace.”
The Pardon and Probation Board first recommended reversing Jones’ verdict in September, but a week later his execution date was set, triggering Monday’s pardon hearing. It is now up to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) to decide whether Jones’ sentence should be reversed or not.
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