Sobs Amid Celebrations: Looking Back At Events Surrounding Julius Jones' Commutation

Friday, November 19th 2021, 5:32 pm

The eyes of the nation were on Oklahoma this week.

Gov. Kevin Stitt removed convicted murderer Julius Jones from death row less than four hours before his scheduled execution for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell.

On Monday, Jones' mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, was denied a meeting with the governor. She hoped to make the case for her son.

Jones supporters began taking up residence Monday night in front of the governor's mansion.

As the sun rose Tuesday, Jones' mother, surrounded by supporters, returned to the state Capitol.

About 10,000 people made calls to the governor's office. Barricades went up in front of the governor's mansion which sent a chill through supporters.

As Tuesday night turned to Wednesday morning, the governor's delay did not deter Jones' supporters.

When the clock struck 11 a.m. Wednesday, with little over 24 hours left in Jones' life, hundreds of students across Oklahoma City walked out of school.

On Wednesday night, Jones was served his last meal at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Two hours away in Oklahoma City, determination turned to desperation as Ebenezer Baptist Church Pastor Derrick Scobey was arrested in a self-described act of civil disobedience. 

On Thursday, crowds gathered in McAlester and at the state Capitol. The House of Representatives closed at noon, and the planned Christmas tree lighting in downtown was canceled.

Then, as the state waited with bated breath, news broke Stitt had spared Jones’ life. Shortly after noon, Stitt commuted Jones' sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The family of Paul Howell released a statement and said the governor's decision affirmed the guilt of Jones, and they take comfort in the fact he'll never again walk a free man.

Celebrations amid sobs were felt from McAlester to the state Capitol. Supporters of Jones gathered outside the governor's mansion on Thursday night with the knowledge that Julius Jones would not be put to death by the state.