Protest turns to celebration for Julius Jones at Oklahoma capital building

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:48 PM CST
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KXII) - On Thursday hundreds of people gathered at the Oklahoma state capital building and awaited a decision from Governor Kevin Stitt on the execution of Julius Jones.

Jones received the death penalty for the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell, though Jones has maintained his claims of innocence throughout his 22 years in prison.

After the Oklahoma board of pardons and parole voted 3-1 in favor of granting Jones clemency for his execution, which was scheduled for 4 p.m. on Thursday, it fell to Governor Stitt to make the final decision.

A decision that did not come until less than 4 hours before the scheduled execution.

But the news was better late than never for those at the capital who erupted in celebration when they got word that Jones would live.

It was a breath of fresh air,” said Julius Jones supporter Tay Thugreight. “Like God heard our prayers, we ain’t pray for no reason.”

Members of the crowd jumped, hugged, and cried looking for anyway to express the relief that this moment brought them.

“It was the most uplifting thing,” said fellow Julius Jones supporter Gigi Norman. “Like a bolder had been removed from our shoulders.”

This case sparked national attention with calls for action from high profile celebrities all the way from Kim Kardashian to former University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

It also caused walk-out protests from student bodies of several Oklahoma City high schools.

“Personally I don’t know him but I don’t know,” said one Midwest City high school student who made his way to the capital following a walk-out at his school. “I’d give him a hug or something to like... I don’t know.”

He and his classmates hoped that news of the support would reach Jones quickly.

“I would want him to know that we was all here for him,” said another Midwest City high school student. “And that we wanted to make sure he was okay.”

And while the rotunda was overtaken by celebration, there were some that felt enough had not been done, including Oklahoma State Conference NAACP President Anthony Douglas.

“That moment is a relief but I believed in God, I believed he was going to do it,” Douglas said of Jones’ clemency. “But I believe the governor should’ve set him free and we will continue to work to get Julius Jones free.”

Jones’ commuted sentence means that he will serve the rest of his life in prison. According to the statement made by Governor Stitt his clemency was granted under the condition that he never again be allowed to apply for additional commutation, pardons, or parole.

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