Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted the death sentence of condemned inmate Julius Jones on Thursday, the day of his scheduled execution. The commutation was announced just four hours before Jones was scheduled to die of lethal injection.
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.’
Stitt announced the decision to commute Jones’ sentence at around noon. When asked where Jones will serve out the remainder of his life sentence, Jones’ attorneys told DailyMail.com: ‘We don’t know yet.’
Jones has been incarcerated at the state penitentiary in McAlester – the same facility where he was scheduled to be executed.
Stitt on Thursday called the Howell family to inform them of the commutation so that they would not start to make the three-hour journey from their home in Edmond near Oklahoma City to the penitentiary in McAlester.
A large crowd of Jones supporters who had gathered inside the Oklahoma State Capitol building in Oklahoma City erupted in celebration after news of the commutation was announced.
The crowd gathered on the same floor as Stitt’s office, though it is unclear if the governor was inside at the time.
‘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,’ Stitt said in a statement on Thursday.
Howell’s family released a statement to News 9 TV which read: ‘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.
‘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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Source: Daily Mail