The state pardon and parole board has voted to give death row inmate Julius Jones a commutation hearing.
Jones was convicted in the 1999 carjacking murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. He's maintained his innocence through it all.
The meeting was virtual, but supporters gathered outside the board's office to listen for the vote.
"Today is the beginning of when our brother is surely coming home," said Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson.
She was one of the dozens of supporters that waited for the news, as board members discussed what materials should and shouldn't be considered for commutation requests.
"Personally, I've not considered any information submitted after the deadline for the March docket," said board member Adam Luck.
We know Jones' legal team submitted more documents on Friday, past the Tuesday deadline.
"I don't want us to become so rigid in our own rules and guidelines that in cases as important as a life and death case that we are going to draw a line," said Larry Morris another board member.
Ultimately all members had access to the documents and letters from the Oklahoma County DA David Prater and state attorney general against the late submission.
In a 3-1 vote members decided Jones' case will advance to a Stage II hearing.
Supporters said they were relieved and grateful, but they know this is just the first hurdle.
The state attorney general said he's disappointed with the decision, in a recent interview he told News 9 he stands by the facts in the case.
"I have a responsibility generally to the people of the state with regard to this conviction," said AG Hunter. "I have a responsibility specifically to the Howell family..."
District Attorney Prater also sent a statement to News 9:
"My heart breaks for the family of Paul Howell today. My thoughts and prayers are with them as they continue to deal with unimaginable pain.”
The pardon and parole board's attorney said typically there are about 90 days between the vote and the hearing. Those involved estimated that would be in June but there's no official day set yet.