Oklahoma governor commutes death sentence of Julius Jones hours before execution

Julius Jones’ death sentence has been commuted by Oklahoma’s governor just hours before he was scheduled to be executed.

Jones, who was convicted of killing Paul Howell, a businessman in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, in 1999, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 4pm on Thursday at the State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Kim Kardashian, who had publicly lobbied Stitt to commute the death sentence, praised the Republican governor and relayed a message from Jones, who she says ‘hasn’t been able to hug his family in more than 20 years.’ 

The reality television star also revealed that Jones refused to take anti-anxiety medication, which is commonly given to death row inmates just before their execution, because he has a ‘clear conscience.’ Jones has proclaimed his innocence from death row for more than two decades in the 1999 killing of a suburban Oklahoma City businessman, Paul Howell.

Stitt commuted Jones’ death sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He had been scheduled for execution on Thursday. Howell’s family said Stitt’s decision to commute the death sentence and keep Jones behind bars for life ‘affirms the guilt of Julius Jones.’

The family released a statement in regards to recent events: “We know Governor Stitt had a difficult decision to make. We take comfort that his decision affirms the guilt of Julius Jones and that he shall not be eligible to apply for, or be considered for, a commutation, pardon or parole for the remained of his life.”

They added: “We would like to thank the countless people in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement agencies across the state, whom for 22 years, for their tireless efforts and unwavering support. Julius Jones has forever changed our lives and the lives of his family and friends.”

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