Reactions, statements to decision to commute Julius Jones’ sentence

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Reactions are pouring in following Gov. Stitt’s decision to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt:

“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.”

Madeline Davis-Jones, mother of Julius Jones:

“For over twenty years, I have been haunted by the idea of watching my baby boy die in an execution chamber for a murder that occurred when he was home with his family. I am grateful that after today’s decision by the governor, that can no longer happen. “I still believe that every day Julius spends behind bars is an injustice, and I will never stop speaking out for him or fighting to free him. But today is a good day, and I am thankful to Governor Stitt for that.”

Family of Paul Howell:

“We know Governor Stitt had a difficult decision to make. We take comfort that his decision affirmed 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 remainder of his life.

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 for their tireless efforts and unwavering support for the last 22 years.

We wish to thank our friends, supporters and advocates whose words, thoughts and prayers have kept us strong throughout this ordeal.

Julius Jones forever changed our lives and the lives of his family and friends.”

Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General:

“The Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General respects the statutory authority of the Governor to make this decision. I know Governor Stitt is making what he believes is the right decision. I appreciate the Governor’s condition that Mr. Jones never be released from prison. However, we are greatly disappointed that after 22 years, four appeals, including the review of 13 appellate Judges, the work of the investigators, prosecutors, jurors, and the trial Judge have been set aside. A thorough review of the evidence confirms Julius Jones’ guilt in this case and that the death penalty was warranted. Our office will continue to work for justice and for the safety of all Oklahomans, including families like Paul Howell’s. We recognize that the pain of losing a loved one never ends, and our hearts and prayers are with the Howell family.”

Amanda Bass, attorney for Julius Jones:

“Governor Stitt took an important step today towards restoring public faith in the criminal justice system by ensuring that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man. While we had hoped the Governor would adopt the Board’s recommendation in full by commuting Julius’s sentence to life with the possibility of parole in light of the overwhelming evidence of Julius’s innocence, we are grateful that the Governor has prevented an irreparable mistake.”

Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:

“It is definitely a mixed blessing. We are thankful that Julius’ life was spared. We grieve that he will have to spend the rest his life in prison without the possibility of parole. That is also cruel and unusual. He’s only 41 years old and has spent 22 years in prison. I hope that Julius’ family will find comfort in this decision. We are also disturbed that Gov. Still waited until four hours before the execution to make this announcement. He put Julius through the ordeal of a last meal and last sleepless night in prison. We hope that sometime in the near future that the death penalty will be abolished and Julius will be free.”

Oklahoma House Democrats:

“There are many who have been on this journey longer than us, and there are many more who just recently joined this fight. We are thankful for all of the time and sacrifice that has led to this moment, and we want to thank Governor Kevin Stitt for sparing the life of Julius Jones. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with both the Howell and Jones families as they move forward from this decision.”

Signing the Statement:

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman. Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-OKC. Rep. Merleyn Bell, D-Norman. Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC. Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa. Rep. Denise Brewer, D-Tulsa. Rep. José Cruz, D-OKC. Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-OKC. Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City. Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa. Rep. Jason Lowe, D-OKC. Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa. Rep. Ajay Pittman, D-OKC. Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa. Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater. Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman. Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC. Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa. Rep. Collin Walke, D-OKC.

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