Proposed Rule Change Likely To Slow Julius Jones' Commutation Request


Friday, April 30th 2021, 11:47 am
By: Lisa Monahan


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Oklahoma death row inmate Julius Jones will have a longer wait to get in front of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

Jones is asking for his death sentence to be commuted. He was convicted in the murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. Howell was shot and killed in the driveway of his parents’ home in 1999. 

In recent years, Jones’ case gained national attention with activists and celebrities calling for state leaders to intervene. The Justice for Jones Coalition claims Jones’ defense team failed to present an alibi for the murder. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater argues the coalition is merely disseminating misinformation abouts the trial.

In March, Jones’ petition made it to the Stage 1 commutation docket for consideration. In a 3-1 vote, the board advanced Jones’ case to a Stage 2 commutation hearing in the Summer 2021.

The Pardon and Parole Board recently proposed a change in the rules for commutation hearing that will delay Jones’ hearing – likely pushing it to the fall. The board is asking Gov. Kevin Stitt and the legislature to approve rule changes that would allow the board to enhance the Stage 2 reviews. If approved, the board would have the authority to review a case without limiting time or number of speakers in a Stage 2 review. If approved, the rules would take effect in Summer 2021.

Jones' hearing will likely be on the September docket to allow for the rule change to go into effect. A September hearing would also allow for in-person meetings. However, Julius Jones will not make an appearance at the hearing due to administrative rules as well as the Pardon & Parole Board, Department of Corrections policy that does not allow for personal appearances for inmates housed in maximum security.

News 9 has also learned the board has hired outside counsel to represent them in a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. 

In March, Prater filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and Governor Kevin Stitt.

The lawsuit was filed days after the board advance Julius Jones’ case to a ‘stage two’ hearing. In the suit, Prater claims the board failed to adhere to legal mandates. He also argues that two members, Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle have financial interests in commutation hearings.

Jones’ supporters include celebrities like Kim Kardashian who has used her platform on Twitter to call for Jones’ release from prison and death row. Prater called for Adam Luck’s recusal after he apparently shared Kardashian’s post on Twitter. Luck has not recused himself from Jones’ case. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board remain under investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.