Amid calls for clemency, Oklahoma set to execute Julius Jones


Posted at Nov 18 2021 08:03 PM

Oklahoma is set to deploy a contested three-drug cocktail on Thursday to execute Julius Jones, who has maintained his innocence in the 22-year-old murder he was convicted of and whose case has attracted the support of celebrities and anti-death penalty activists.

Jones' last hope for clemency rests with Republican Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt who has yet to rule on a recommendation on a 3-1 vote by the state's Pardon and Parole Board earlier this month that his sentence be commuted to life in prison.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Jones' execution by lethal injection is scheduled for 4 p.m. CST (2200 GMT) at the state penitentiary in McAlester.

On Wednesday morning, dozens of students from each of several Oklahoma City high schools walked out of classes to demonstrate their support for clemency, local media reported.

Jones, 41, who was convicted of fatally shooting insurance executive Paul Howell during a 1999 carjacking in his driveway, was among five condemned inmates who won stays of execution from a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 27.

But the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stays the next day, allowing the state to resume executions for the first time since 2015 by putting to death John Grant hours later by lethal injection. Witnesses said Grant convulsed and vomited before dying, but the state Department of Corrections said there were no complications.

Grant had been a plaintiff in a lawsuit set to go to trial next year challenging the three-drug protocol that ended his life as inhumane, but the state refused to postpone his execution.

Jones' lawyers have cited evidence that he was home with his family when the murder occurred, which they said the jury never learned because his lawyers at the time failed to fully investigate it.

Doubts about Jones' guilt have prompted numerous calls for Stitt to accept the clemency recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board.

Among those who have taken an interest in the case is celebrity Kim Kardashian West, who issued a series of tweets calling for Jones' sentence to be commuted.

A number of evangelical leaders and a handful of Republican state lawmakers, including state Representative John Talley, also questioned Jones' guilt and urged the governor commute his sentence.