Following the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board, public lobbying of celebrities Kim Kardashian, Sir Richard Branson, and Steve Kerr, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt decided to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for death row inmate Julius Jones.

This decision by Governor Stitt came just 4 hours before Jones was due to be executed by lethal injection at a penitentiary in McAlester, where he is serving his sentence.

One of the most vocal lobbyists and advocates to commute the death penalty was certainly Kim Kardashian who used her social media profiles to support Jones and pressure the governor to adopt the pardon board’s recommendation and commute the sentence.

Saved by the bell

The reality star praised Governor Stitt’s decision with enthusiasm and shared on her Instagram profile how she had been on the phone with Julius all day and heard when he refused to take the anti-anxiety drug given to convicts before the execution, saying his conscience was clear and that he does not want to be drugged.

To recall, Jones was sentenced to death for the murder of businessman Paul Howell in 1999 during car theft, and throughout the trial, Jones pointed out his innocence.

The family of victim Paul Howell also spoke out about the governor’s decision, saying the governor’s resolution to commute the sentence to life imprisonment without parole only confirms Jones’ guilt.

They added how they are hoping Jones will not be given the opportunity to apply for pardon or parole.

In a statement announcing his decision, Stitt said that after a long and detailed consideration of the case and a review of all the materials submitted, he decided to respect the decision of the Pardons Board and commute the decision on the death penalty.

This decision was greeted with enthusiasm by Jones supporters in the Capitol of the State of Oklahoma, especially after negative predictions after Stitt refused to meet with Jones’ mother.

Jones’ attorney, Amanda Bass, expressed regret the governor had not commuted the sentence to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole but nonetheless expressed her gratitude the innocent man’s life had been spared.

AG is not happy

However, enthusiasm for the governor’s decision is not shared by all.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said he was disappointed with the governor’s decision and the only positive thing is the governor’s decision does not provide for the possibility of parole.

He added the evidence in the case confirms Jones was guilty and the death penalty was justified, concluding how his thoughts and prayers are with the Howell family.

Jones was sentenced to death in 2002, and during and after the trial he insisted on pleading not guilty and how the murder was framed on him.

Prosecutors said Jones, along with Christopher Jordan (co-defendant who was released after 15 years imprisonment), in an attempt to rob a car, killed Howell, and one of the most important testimonies was of Paul Howell’s daughter, Rachel, who said Jones shot her father in the head without saying a word.