K. Query-Thompson, KFOR
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend a commuted sentence for a man convicted of murder, the Oklahoma County District Attorney is speaking out.
Julius Jones is on death row for the murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell, who was shot to death in the driveway of his parents’ Edmond home in July 1999.
“When we pulled up in the driveway and stopped, my dad had kind of cracked the door open. I looked over. I was sitting right behind him, right behind my dad. I was in the backseat right behind the driver’s seat, and I looked over and saw Julius Jones walking up to the car,” Rachel Howell, Paul’s daughter, told KFOR. “It happened so fast, but I saw him walking up, and I remember waving, because I’m a child. I don’t know what’s about to happen. I just remember kind of waving, and he literally shot my dad in the head and did not say a word. He did not say a word. He shot my dad, and I watched my dad’s head go like that. That is the vision that I have every night is my dad’s head falling to the right.”
Investigators say the murderer took off in Howell’s Suburban.
Jones was ultimately arrested and indicted for Howell’s murder. He did not take the stand during the trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to death in 2002. Since his conviction, there has been a national movement proclaiming his innocence.
Jones’ supporters say he was failed by his defense team, which they say never brought up his alibi on the night of the murder.
Jones and his family maintain that he is innocent.
“As God is my witness, I was not involved in any way in the crimes that led to Howell being shot and killed,” Jones said in his clemency report. “I have spent the past 20 years on death row for a crime I did not commit, did not witness and was not at.”
However, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater says Jones’ supporters have “disseminated misinformation and lies regarding the trial and evidence” in the case.
On Monday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 in favor of commuting Jones’ death sentence to life in prison.
Several members of the board said they had some doubt that Jones committed the murder, and didn’t feel that the state should move forward with his execution.
Now, the case moves to Gov. Stitt’s office.
Following the decision by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater held a news conference about the case.
Recently, the Oklahoma Attorney General requested that Jones execution date be set at Oct. 28.
Note: This story first appeared at KFOR (the NBC News affiliate) in Oklahoma City. It is reposted here, with permission. At the link here and atop the story is a video version of the KFOR report.