Five Republican lawmakers on Friday urged Gov. Kevin Stitt to grant death-row inmate Julius Jones’ clemency plea.
Two of the five, Reps. Garry Mize and Preston Stinson, represent parts of Edmond, where the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, whom Jones was convicted of killing, occurred.
The other three are Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow; Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds; and Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater.
Jones is scheduled for execution Thursday, although the state Pardon and Parole Board has twice recommended that his sentence be commuted to life in prison.
That recommendation requires Stitt’s approval.
Jones maintains that he was framed for Howell’s murder, which occurred during a car hijacking.
A massive campaign to free Jones or at least save him from execution has attracted international attention and the support of several celebrities.
“The last thing the state should be doing is taking the life of someone who may be innocent,” Mize said in a news release issued by a public relations firm working for Jones’ supporters.
“There is too much doubt here, especially given that Julius Jones’ codefendant has confessed to being the real murderer. We can’t move forward with an execution under these circumstances in good conscience. I hope and pray Gov. Stitt accepts the recommendation of his Parole Board.”
Jones’ supporters say Christopher Jordan, the key witness against Jones, admitted to three fellow inmates at different times that he and not Jones killed Howell.
Jones says he was at home with his family at the time of the shooting.
Much of the prosecution’s case rested on Jordan’s testimony and the discovery of the murder weapon and other evidence in Jones’ house.
“If we believe, as conservatives, in law and order and the criminal justice system, then we have to make sure the system is getting it right,” Talley said in the news release.
“In this case, the Pardon and Parole Board spent several hours looking at the case, during two separate hearings, and determined that it may not have. We should not execute a man in that context.”
“Paul Howell’s murder was a terrible tragedy for his family and this entire community,” said Stinson. “More than two decades later, however, I have many constituents who still have questions.”
McDugle has championed the case of Richard Glossip, another death-row inmate who even prosecutors agree did not actually kill anyone.
“Putting someone to death should be the highest bar to meet, and when there is doubt we just can’t do it!” McDugle said.