MCALESTER, Okla. — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt granted clemency to death row inmate Julius Jones about four hours ahead of his scheduled execution.
Jones will serve a life sentence without the possibility for parole.
“After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”
Attorneys for Julius Jones and other Oklahoma death row inmates filed an emergency motion Thursday only a few hours ahead of Jones's scheduled execution in McAlester.
The motion filed in federal court seeks an injunction to hold off on the execution citing evidence from the killing of John Grant that cast doubt on the state's lethal injection procedure.
"The Execution Protocol and the use of midazolam, as well as the cursory consciousness checks [are] done under the Protocol, pose a serious and substantial risk of severe suffering and pain to prisoners," the attorneys say in the motion.
They also noted that their motion only had to be filed so close to the execution time because Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt had not yet granted clemency to Jones.
Despite the motion, preparations were already underway for the execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
At approximately 6 a.m. local time, McAlester police set up areas with caution tape, and people started showing up hours before the execution was set to take place.
Stitt has not decided whether to follow a recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board for clemency. On Nov. 1, the Board voted three to one to recommend commuting Jones's sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
If there is no word or if Stitt does not accept the recommendation, officials will follow through with the procedure of lethal injection. Jones had his final meal and spoke with his family potentially for the last time.
This is coming after weeks of discussion and questions after John Marion Grant's execution. Reporters described the execution as "violent" due to Grant convulsing and vomiting before his death.
Grant was the first person to be executed in Oklahoma since 2015.
Emily Farris at KJRH first reported this story.