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death penalty

Oklahoma parole board recommends clemency for death row inmate Julius Jones

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 on Monday to recommend commuting the death sentence of Julius Jones to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Jones was 19 when he was convicted of the 1999 murder of businessman Paul Howell. Jones has always maintained his innocence, and his family said he was with them at home when the murder took place. He is set to be executed on Nov. 18, and in the petition for clemency, his attorneys said Jones was found guilty due to "fundamental breakdowns in the system," including an ineffective and inexperienced public defender and alleged prosecutorial misconduct, CNN reports. A juror also later came forward and shared he heard another juror refer to Jones as the n-word, the petition states, and several individuals have said Jones' co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, admitted he killed Howell.

Howell's daughter, Rachel, told CNN she believes the evidence proves Jones is guilty, and her family is being "re-victimized" by Jones. Jones' mother, Madeline Davis-Jones, said on Monday she knows "what it's like to have a loved one ripped away from you and to constantly relive that loss," and she hopes and prays that the Howell family is able to "find healing and peace."

The pardon and parole board first recommended commuting Jones' sentence in September, but a week later, his execution date was set, which triggered Monday's clemency hearing. It is now up to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) to decide whether or not to commute Jones' sentence.