OKLAHOMA CITY — In a meeting on March 8, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board voted 3-1 to move the application for Julius Jones' commutation to the next stage.
Jones has been on death row since a murder conviction in 2002. A jury found Jones guilty in the 1999 killing of Paul Howell. Nearly two decades after being sentenced to execution, Jones maintains his innocence.
An Oklahoma County District Attorney calls the "movement to free him a campaign of misinformation."
Jones' attorney says a potential confession from a decade ago is the latest evidence supporting their belief that Jones was framed and wrongfully sent to death row. A man claims Jones' co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, told him he had committed the Howell murder while this man and Jordan were housed together in an Arkansas prison in 2009, according to the Washington Post.
Howell was shot and killed in his parents' driveway in Edmond, Oklahoma after driving with his sister and two daughters. His daughters and sister ran when a man approached Howell with a gun.
Howell was shot, and the suspect drove off in Howell's car.
A commutation changes a sentence to one that is less severe. It is intended to correct an unjust or excessive sentence. In Oklahoma, the Pardon and Parole board uses a two step review process.
During the Stage One - Qualification Review, the Pardon and Parole Board conducts a review to determine if the application should be passed to Stage Two – Commutation Hearing for further investigation and consideration for a sentence commutation. If the application is passed to Stage Two, the applicant will have a personal appearance with the Pardon and Parole Board via video conferencing.