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Oklahoma death row prisoner spared at last-minute amid public outcry

(AFP)

The governor of Oklahoma commuted the death sentence at the last-minute on Thursday of a 41-year-old Black man who was to be executed for a murder he denies committing, and whose case sparked a public outcry.

Governor Kevin Stitt commuted the death sentence of Julius Jones to life in prison less than four hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.

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Reality TV star Kim Kardashian and a number of other public figures had appealed to the governor to halt the execution.

In an executive order, Stitt said he was commuting Jones’ death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, a white businessman.

He was to be executed by lethal injection at 4:00 pm (2200 GMT) at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Jones claims he was discriminated against during his trial, that he was framed by the real perpetrator and that his first lawyer poorly defended him. 

His case has been the subject of a documentary series and podcast and has drawn the support of a number of celebrities convinced of his innocence.

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