OKLAHOMA CITY — In a meeting on March 8th the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board voted 3-1 to move the application for Julius Jones' commutation to the next stage.
Jones is on death row since a murder conviction in 2002. A jury found Jones guilty in the 1999 killing of Paul Howell. Nearly two decades after being sentenced to execution, Jones maintains his innocence.
An Oklahoma County District Attorney calls the "movement to free him a campaign of misinformation."
A commutation changes a sentence to one that is less severe. It is intended to correct an unjust or excessive sentence. In Oklahoma the Pardon and Parole board uses a two step review process.
During the Stage One - Qualification Review, the Pardon and Parole Board conducts a review to determine if the application should be passed to Stage Two – Commutation Hearing for further investigation and consideration for a sentence commutation. If the application is passed to Stage Two, the applicant will have a personal appearance with the Pardon and Parole Board via video conferencing.
State Attorney General Mike Hunter released a statement opposing the vote.
“With the exception of Judge Allen McCall, I am disappointed in the members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The three members who voted in favor of moving Jones to stage two did not apply objective standards to the law or the evidence. I encourage those members to go back and look at the 33-page protest letter and 849-page appendix we submitted last Monday, which completely invalidates every claim that Julius Jones is innocent. My office will continue to stand on the irrefutable facts of this case and with the family of Paul Howell by opposing Jones’ request for relief from the Pardon and Parole Board.”
Jones' next hearing will be in June.
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