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Kevin Stitt has a decision to make…

7:36 AM EDT on November 2, 2021

A month after Governor Stitt kicked the can down the road, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted yesterday to recommend clemency for death row inmate Julius Jones, the guy who was convicted of murdering an Edmond man back in 1999.

Here are details via the AP:

Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board on Monday recommended that Gov. Kevin Stitt spare the life of Julius Jones, a man who has been on death row while proclaiming his innocence for more than two decades in the 1999 killing of a suburban Oklahoma City businessman.

The board recommended in 3-1 votes that Stitt grant Jones clemency and commute his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole after hearing from Jones, 41, who testified via video link from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Several members of the panel agreed they had doubts about the evidence that led to Jones’ conviction...

Jones’ fate now rests with Stitt, who must decide whether to let Jones be executed or commute his sentence.

Yep, it looks like Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt – an alleged compassionate Christian conservative who values the sanctity of life – literally has another person's life in his hands. Based on how Stitt managed life or death decisions involving the Coronavirus pandemic and execution of John Grant, Jones has to be feeling very nervous right now.

This is doubly so when you look at our state's troubled history with executions. Even in a state that loves to execute people who possibly murdered someone, it's not uncommon for the Pardon and Parole Board to recommend clemency. It's also not uncommon for the Governor to ignore them:

Stitt’s predecessor, fellow Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, rejected three separate recommendations for clemency for people on death row. The last time a governor granted clemency to someone on death row was in 2010, by Democrat Brad Henry.

Stitt's entire governing philosophy seems to be based on asking Mary Fallin to hold his beer, so you have to wonder how he's going to handle this.

I guess his options are:

1. Follow the board's recommendation and commute Jones' sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Yeah, I don't think that's going to happen. Even if video evidence was produced tomorrow that showed someone else committing the murder, I can't see any way that Stitt commutes Jones' sentence to one that allows parole. He's a law and order pandering, thin blue line wearing, MAGA-inspired Republican who has higher political ambitions than running a deep red state into the ground. Showing that much compassion to a black man who was convicted of murdering a white man would anger his base and make it harder for him to win elections, especially in the south!

That being said, I think he can...

2. Commute Jones' sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Although it will piss off partisans on both sides of the issue, this seems like a fair enough compromise. Whether you think he's guilty or innocent, any reasonable person can agree that there are too many questions and odd circumstances surrounding the case to sentence Jones to death. When sentencing a person to death, we need 100% conclusive evidence they committed the crime, and in Jones' case, that's just not there. The same goes for death row inmate Richard Glossip.

3. Let Julius Jones – a man who may be innocent of his accused crimes – die a painful death at the hands of the state. 

Knowing how much he likes to stick to the libs, this is the outcome I'd sadly place money on. The Julius Jones case has become a political issue, and when politics are involved, politicians – even when they're rube outsiders like Stitt – make political decisions. From that perspective, the easy political decision for Stitt would be to pander to his base and let Jones die.

Then again, maybe there's another option here that I'm missing. This is Kevin Stitt we're talking about. He goes out of his way to come up with head-scratching decisions that make no sense, so maybe he and his legal team are working on a maneuver that executes Jones, but allows Stitt to blame it on McGirt.

Either way, according to his she-troll, Stitt's thinking the whole thing over:

“Governor Stitt is aware of the Pardon and Parole Board’s vote today,” Stitt spokeswoman Carly Atchison said in a statement. “Our office will not offer further comment until the governor has made a final decision.”

Regardless of the decision Stitt makes, I think we can all expect it will be announced on a Friday afternoon at around 3pm. You know, so as many people as possible will not know about it.

Anyway, I guess we'll continue to monitor the case and keep you updated. If you're up for it, give your thoughts on what Stitt will do in the comments. Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.

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