The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected a request to remove two members of the state’s Pardons and Parole Board from a high-profile death penalty case.
Friday’s brief court ruling dismissed a prosecutor’s request to remove Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle from consideration of the commutation request of Julius Jones, who was sentenced to death for the man’s 1999 murder of Edmond Paul Howell.
The decision came after an attorney for District Attorney David Prater argued before a court arbitrator that unless Members Luck and Doyle were barred from participating in the decision, the five-member council would likely recommend that Jones’ sentence be commuted after a hearing Monday.
Prater, who has argued that Luck and Doyle have a conflict of interest because of their work with released detainees, said in a statement he respected the High Court ruling.
“It’s the system I operate in every day and believe in it, even though decisions don’t always turn out the way I want them to,” Prater wrote.
Prater said his office was ready to present “the truth of the circumstances” surrounding Howell’s fatal shooting in a carjacking.
“If the Council objectively considers the truth, it will vote quickly to reject the killer’s commutation request,” Prater said.
Luck and Doyle’s attorneys Evan Gatewood and Michael Lieberman did not immediately respond to Saturday phone messages seeking comment.
The council could recommend downgrading Jones’ sentence to life in prison with or without the possibility of parole, but Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt would make the final decision.
Prater has vowed to oppose a commutation recommendation if the council sends it to the governor.
Jones, now 41, has maintained his innocence since his arrest and alleges he was trapped by the actual killer, a high school friend and former co-defendant who was a key state witness against him.
His case gained attention after being featured in “The Last Defense,” a three-part documentary produced by actress Viola Davis that aired on ABC in 2018. It has since caught the star’s attention. reality TV Kim Kardashian West and athletes from Oklahoma. links, including NBA stars Russell Westbrook Blake Griffin and Trae Young, who urged Stitt to commute Jones’ death sentence and spare his life.
Prater and former state attorney general Mike Hunter said the evidence against Jones was overwhelming. Information from the trial transcripts shows witnesses identified Jones as the gunman and placed him with Howell’s stolen vehicle. Investigators found the murder weapon and a bandana with Jones’ DNA in an attic above his bedroom, but Jones claims in his switch file that the gun and bandana were planted there by the killer real.
Jones also maintains that his trial was tainted by a racist juror, but Hunter noted that the Oklahoma Magistrates’ Court and Court of Criminal Appeals concluded otherwise.
Jones’ supporters are planning a prayer service and rally on Monday in support of his switch request.
“Julius Jones will finally have the chance to tell his story,” said Rev. Cece Jones-Davis of Justice for Julius, who is not related to Julius Jones. “We believe the truth will set him free. ”
The Independent Gt