Supporters of Julius Jones exploded in celebration and sang Amazing Grace after the death row inmate narrowly avoided execution for murder.
Jones’ sister, Antoinette Jones, recounted The Independent the family was overjoyed but that it was “just the beginning” of his battle.
“I feel lighter, calmer. It’s not over. This is still just the beginning. The fight, we’re pushing further, ”Ms. Jones said.
“This is just the beginning. I thank everyone for bowing down, lending their voice, lending their platform. ”
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt commuted Jones’ death sentence hours before he was scheduled to be killed by a lethal injection.
Jones was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the 1999 shooting death of Edmond businessman Paul Howell during a car capture.
Mr. Howell’s daughter Rachel Howell, who witnessed her father’s murder, said in a statement to an Oklahoma broadcaster. KOCO said Governor Stitt had a difficult decision.
“We are comforted that his decision asserted the guilt of Julius Jones and that he is not allowed to ask for, or be considered for, commutation, pardon or probation for the rest of his life,” the statement said.
“Julius Jones has forever changed our lives and the lives of his family and friends.”
While his death sentence was commuted, Jones remains on trial for the murder and will serve the remainder of his sentence in prison.
The Innocent Project, which led the push to save Jones ’life with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, said they will continue to fight for reduced punishment.
“Julius will live and his fight for justice will continue,” they said in a tweet.
Kardashian herself said she spoke with Jones yesterday and that he kept his innocence, adding that he was simply coming together with a wrong crowd and that is what incarcerated him.
“I am so grateful to everyone who used their voice and helped save Julius’ life today. Thanks to the parole board and to Governor Stitt, “Kardashian said.
Jones ’defense attorney, Amanda Bass, said the stay of execution was an important step today in restoring public confidence in the criminal justice system.
“Although we hoped that the Governor would fully adopt the Board’s recommendation by changing Julius ‘sentence to life with the possibility of probation because of the overwhelming evidence of Julius’ innocence, we are grateful that the Governor prevented an irreparable mistake,” S- ino Bass. said in a statement.
The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, which pushed to continue with the execution, said they were “very disappointed” by the stay of execution.
“We are very disappointed that after 22 years, four appeals, including the review of 13 appellate judges, the work of the investigators, prosecutors, jurors and the trial judge have been set aside,” the statement said.
“A detailed review of the evidence confirms Julius Jones’ guilt in this case and the death penalty was guaranteed.”
The Independent and the nonprofit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) has launched a joint campaign demanding an end to the death penalty in the United States. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Declaration of Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty – with The Independent as the last on the list. We join high-profile executives such as Ariana Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and make a pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.