Only a week after the state’s pardon board voted to recommend that the governor commute his death sentence, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set an execution date for Julius Jones.
The Jones execution date is Nov. 18.
Gov. Kevin Stitt has given no indication when and whether he will agree with the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole’s 3-1 vote to give the convicted killer a reprieve.
Convicted and given the death penalty for killing an Edmond insurance executive during a carjacking, the Jones case has attracted international attention with an actress and professional basketball stars pushing for his removal from the state’s execution list.
The governor can decide not to commute the Jones sentence or he could decide to commute his sentence to a life sentence with or without the possibility of parole.
Oklahoma’s new attorney general, John O’Connor, asked the court to schedule the execution dates for death row inmates.
State Attorney General O’Connor made the request in August after a federal judge ruled six of the inmates could no longer participate in a legal challenge to the state’s execution procedures.
“The seven inmates to be scheduled for execution were convicted of heinous crimes,” Attorney General O’Connor said in August.
“They either didn’t challenge the protocol or offer an alternative method of execution.”
Still in the legal challenge are 26 other death row inmates. Their lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court focuses mainly on the use of a sedative, midazolam, in lethal injections. Trial is set for Feb. 28.
Mr. Jones, 41, is facing execution for the 1999 fatal shooting.
Jurors chose the death penalty as punishment at a 2002 trial.
The victim, Paul Howell, was gunned down in his parents’ driveway in Edmond after a back-to-school shopping trip with his daughters.
Stolen was his 1997 Suburban.
Mr. Jones claims that he is innocent, that the real killer framed him and that his trial was unfair.
“I am not the only young Black male whose public defenders were overmatched, whose juries were biased, who were chewed up and spit out by a system that packs our prisons with people who look just like me,” he wrote in a letter sent to the pardon and parole board.
Millions signed a petition in his support after ABC in 2018 aired the documentary series, “The Last Defense,” about his innocence claim.
Oklahoma has not carried out an execution since January 2015.
Scheduled for execution first is John Marion Grant, 60, an armed robber who was sentenced to death for fatally stabbing a prison kitchen worker in 1998.
His execution was set for Oct. 28.
Next is Jones.
Third is Bigler Jobe Stouffer, 78, who was sentenced to death for the 1985 fatal shooting of a Putnam City elementary school teacher.
His execution was set for Dec. 9.
Mr. Stouffer did not join the other death row inmates in their legal challenge to the execution protocol. His attorney, though, told the state criminal appeals court he will file his own challenge.
Fourth is Wade Greely Lay, 60, who was sentenced to death for killing a security guard during a botched bank robbery in 2004.
His execution was set for Jan. 6.
Fifth is Donald A. Grant, 45, who was sentenced to death for killing two workers at the LaQuinta Inn in Del City during a 2001 robbery.
His execution was set for Jan. 27.
Sixth is Gilbert Ray Postelle, 35, who was convicted of murdering four people on Memorial Day 2005 outside a trailer in Del City.
He was sentenced to death for two of the murders and to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the other two.
His execution was set for Feb. 17.
Seventh is James Allen Coddington, 49, who was sentenced to death for killing a Choctaw man in 1997 during a cocaine binge.
His execution was set for March 10.
Attorney General O’Connor initially had asked for earlier dates.
He revised his request when the appeals court did not act. He told the court he was doing so so that inmates will get a required notice and to allow the parole board time to conduct clemency hearings.
In the order, the four judges on the court found that the setting of execution dates is now appropriate and required by law.
They acknowledged in a footnote that they are aware of Mr. Jones’ commutation request. They wrote “this Court’s duty to set a date certain is dictated” by law because there is currently no stay in effect.