Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt granted clemency to Julius Jones Thursday right before his scheduled execution following a recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
Jones’s sentence was reduced from the death penalty to life in prison.
Stitt also ordered that Jones never be eligible to apply for or be considered for a commutation, pardon, or parole for the rest of his life. But the Pardon and Parole Board recommended the possibility of parole in a 3-1 vote.
The decision means Jones will not be executed but will have to spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he still insists he did not commit.
Jones, who has spent the last 20 years on death row, was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty for the fatal shooting of Paul Howell, who was killed during a carjacking in 1999.
In 2002 a jury 12-person jury with only one black person found him guilty and sentenced him to death. One of the jurors even alleges another juror called Jones the N-word and called for him to be lynched outside the courthouse.
In 2014, Christopher Jordan, the person driving the getaway car in Howell’s murder, admitted to shooting Howell and framing Jones, leaving many to believe Howell’s murder will never be solved.
But clemency in Oklahoma is rare and almost never granted. An Oklahoma governor has only granted clemency four times in the state’s history and has denied clemency more than nine times.
Still for Jones’ supporter’s clemency doesn’t feel too satisfying for a man they believe should be free and enjoying his family.
Jones has been featured in the first season of ‘The Last Defense,’ a documentary television series that explores injustices in the American justice system. His story was also featured on a podcast with Kim Kardashian and was mentioned on the ‘Late Late Show with James Corden. Stephen Curry and his coach Steve Kerr have also shown support for Julius Jones. But Jones’ support doesn’t end with celebrities. More than 6.3 million people signed a change.org petition requesting that Jones not be executed.
Now that Gov. Stitt has made his decision, is the fight for Julius Jones over? Only his supporters can answer that question, but they have fought for 20 years so why would the fight end now?