A state clemency board has granted clemency to a man set to be executed in Oklahoma for the 1979 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, according to a death row inmate’s lawyer and the governor’s office.
The board voted 3-2 Thursday to stop the execution of 54-year-old Julius Jones of Okmulgee.
Alvin McCray, who represents Jones on appeal, told Fox News on Thursday that the Oklahoma Department of Corrections confirms that Jones is now scheduled to be executed at the same time as William Bradford Bishop on Nov. 29.
“His name has been cleared,” McCray said, calling Jones a “good man with no history of violence.”
Attorney General Mike Hunter, a Republican who is the state’s former attorney general, also weighed in on Twitter, saying that Jones’ death “does not serve justice or society” and calling for the state to find “other appropriate ways to deal with his crimes.”
Jones was sentenced to death in 1980 for the 1979 murder of Cissy Taylor, whose body was found naked with multiple bullet wounds to the back, allegedly after Jones sexually assaulted her.
Twenty-five years after his conviction, Jones’ appeal came before the Oklahoma Clemency Board on Thursday, and a decision was expected within days. The New York Times reports that the board held a hearing on Monday.
However, following the decision, the governor’s office said Thursday night that Jones’ execution was on hold, and announced that he will instead be transferred to prison to serve his sentence.
Jones’ case garnered worldwide attention, after his 2002 clemency request was blocked by then-Gov. Brad Henry.
Henry, a Democrat, argued the death penalty was “ineffective, excessive and overprescribed.”
He argued that Jones, who is black, was not sentenced equally, as blacks are disproportionately represented in the state’s death row population.
Bishop, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and rape of a teen girl in 1973, but his case was scheduled for execution in 2005, just six days before Jones was to be put to death.
That execution was canceled after the state Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to grant Bishop clemency.
Cathy Foster, an aunt of Cissy Taylor, told the Tulsa World that there would have been no “closure in anything” if Jones were executed for the murder.
“Justice needs to be served,” she said. “If his lawyers want to delay it, let them. … There is no closure in anything, and we really don’t want any.”
Bishop will now become the fifth person scheduled to be executed this month, according to the Department of Corrections. A Louisiana woman died Thursday while suffering from a drug overdose in an execution that was postponed due to her medical history, and Missouri officials have planned to carry out another execution in the coming days.
“Every day that passes from now until then gives an extra dose of pain and suffering for the family of the victim and the victim herself,” McCray told the Times. “It doesn’t do justice to him or to anyone.”