MCALESTER, Okla. — Several police officers gathered outside the Department of Corrections in McAlester a few hours before Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt granted clemency to Julius Jones. The ruling came four hours ahead of Jones's scheduled execution.
Thursday's order from the governor includes a provision that says Jones will not be able to apply for or be considered for commutation, pardon, or parole, but that didn't stop his family and supporters from celebrating.
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"I know there is still a fight on our hands, so while I'm grateful, it wasn't the recommendation that his Pardon and Parole board voted on, but we are still grateful," says Jones's sister, Antoinette Jones.
Antoinette Jones says her family was sitting at a restaurant when they got the word that her brother's life had been spared.
"We were sitting at a table in Denny's, and I had just gotten done telling my parents to pray and don't make your way down here and then we got that news," she says.
Among the hundreds of supporters gathered outside the prison was Dr. Tiffany Crutcher. Her brother, Terrance Crutcher was shot and killed by a Tulsa police officer in 2016.
She had a message for the family of Paul Howell, the Edmond man that Julius Jones is convicted of killing.
"We know what you've been through," Crutcher says. "We have dealt with violent crime and gun violence where our family members were gunned down and killed."
She says she wants the Howell family to know that she understands what it means to be traumatized by violent acts.
"We hope that they get some real closure and justice and that the real killer is brought to justice, and we are praying for them daily and we hope that they pray for us, but we feel their pain."
Jones supporter and Tulsa activist, Greg Robinson echoed her message to the Howell family.
"We are not celebrating the death of Mr. Howell today," Robinson says.
"We are celebrating life and that gives us an opportunity to continue a fight for justice on both causes."
Julius Jones has spent nearly 20 years on death row for Howell's murder from 1999. Jones maintained that he is innocent and that he was framed by his co-defendant.
2 News Oklahoma asked Antoinette Jones if she had anything to say to the family of Paul Howell, but she declined at this time.
Julius Jones will now serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
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