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Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor is advising Governor Stitt to execute Julius Jones, according to a source familiar with the situation. The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said O’Connor is pushing Stitt to “move forward with the execution”.
“O’Connor said the governor listens to him,” the source said, and that “Stitt considers him a mentor“.
The news comes as Governor Stitt still has yet to make a decision on the state Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation to grant Jones clemency and commute his sentence. The Board has now twice recommended that Stitt commute Jones’ sentence to life with the possibility of parole. But with just eight days until Jones’ November 18th execution date, time is running out.
Attorney General’s push to execute Jones ‘not rooted in the facts of the case’, source says
In their interview with The BWSTimes, the source, who has knowledge of O’Conner’s conversations about the case, noted that O’Connor’s reasoning “doesn’t seem like it’s connected to the guilt or innocence of Julius Jones”.
“He’s basing it on closure for the [Howell] family,” they said. “That and Julius’s past legal troubles as a young teenager, rather than the facts of the case.”
They said O’Connor indicated he “felt pretty confident the execution would happen because of his advice to the governor and the way the governor listens to him.”
Since taking office over the summer, O’Connor has made his opposition to clemency or commutation for Jones known. In late October, he and Oklahoma County DA David Prater attempted to have two respected members of the Pardon and Parole Board removed. It was a move even high-profile Republicans with close ties to the Trump White House called “troubling pressure tactics“.
The BWSTimes reached out to the Attorney General’s office asking if he was advising the governor to execute Jones; a decision that would fly in the face of the Pardon and Parole Board’s unprecedented back-to-back recommendations for commutation.
In a statement, OAG Press Secretary Madelyn Sheriff confirmed the Attorney General’s office is advocating for execution.
“The Attorney General is very disappointed with the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation,” wrote Sheriff. “Our office will continue to advocate for the jurors’ sentence, and justice for the Howell family.”
Faith leaders, Jones’ family members pray for justice and mercy from Oklahoma governor
As Jones’ execution date nears, faith leaders, community members and elected leaders are urging the Governor to spare Julius’s life. While the Attorney General and longtime friend of the governor pushes for execution, conservatives across the country ask for commutation. It’s a rare but welcomed moment of unity across the political spectrum.
Jones’ family is also pleading with Governor Stitt to uphold the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendations. In a virtual prayer meeting on Tuesday night, pastors prayed for Julius’s freedom, the Governor’s discernment and the Jones and Howell families alike. Julius’s mother and sister also joined the call and added to the prayers.
Julius’s sister, Antoinette, thanked supporters across the state for fighting for her brother. “Twenty-two years ago, we didn’t have this,” she said of the outpouring of advocacy, “But God.”
His mother, Madeline, fighting back tears at one point, told the thousands watching “I just want to hold my baby boy again”.
It’s been 22 years since Mrs. Jones held her son. Faith leaders tonight asked Oklahomans to call, write, pray and work to ensure she has that chance again.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Matt Schlapp, a Republican who has advocated for commutation for Julius Jones, as a “former Trump White House Official”. Mr. Schlapp is a former Bush White House Official. He later lobbied the Trump White House when his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, served as Trump’s Director of Strategic Communications.