An American who was to be executed, Thursday, November 18, in Oklahoma, saw his sentence commuted within four hours of the injection of a lethal cocktail, after the mobilization of millions of people in his favor.
The Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, thus commuted the death sentence, pronounced in 2002 against Julius Jones, in irreducible sentence of detention for life, according to a decree published on the site of this conservative state of the south of the United States. Mr. Stitt publishes as follows:
“After having carefully considered the evidence provided by the various parties, I have decided to commute the death sentence imposed on Julius Jones to life imprisonment, without parole. “
“Julius Jones will not be able to ask for new commutations, pardon or parole until the end of his life”, is it also specified in the online decree.
“An irreparable error” prevented
“We thank the governor for preventing an irreparable error”, commented the lawyer of the condemned, Amanda Bass, in a statement, while noting that she had “Hoped” he will follow “Entirely the recommendations of the pardon office”. The office, which had expressed doubts about Mr Jones’ guilt, had twice recommended commuting his sentence to life in prison and allowing him to apply for early release.
“I am so grateful to everyone who spoke up and helped save Julius. Thanks to the Pardon Office and Governor Stitt ”, reacted on Twitter the reality TV star Kim Kardashian, one of the figures of the mobilization in favor of the condemned.
Julius Jones, a 41-year-old African-American, has been jailed for almost 20 years for the 1999 murder of a white Oklahoma City businessman, and has since lived awaiting the execution of his death. capital punishment. Mr Jones has always claimed his innocence, explaining that he was tricked by the perpetrator – one of his old friends, according to the Washington Post -, to have been badly defended by his first lawyers, and to have been the subject of discrimination during the trial.
Several million people mobilized
His legal actions have all been dismissed and the victim’s family, including her daughter, remain convinced of her guilt. However, the flaws in the file were the subject of a documentary series, The Last Defense, broadcast in the United States in 2018, on the ABC channel, and which tipped part of the public opinion in its favor.
As the date set for his execution approaches, celebrities, recognized athletes and the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, but also six and a half million people, through an online petition , had asked Governor Stitt to intervene.
Hundreds of Oklahoma high school students also walked out of their school on Wednesday to protest and try to bend the governor. Protesters had finally camped near his residence in recent nights, according to the local channel Koco.
Use of a controversial lethal cocktail
Beyond doubts about his guilt, the execution raised questions, because Julius Jones was to receive a lethal cocktail of three substances suspected of causing excruciating suffering. Oklahoma resumed executions on October 28, after a six-year hiatus, using this controversial protocol.
John Grant, a 60-year-old African-American, was shaken by vomiting and seizures after the first injection, reporters who witnessed the scene reported. The prison services ensured that there was “No complications”, but several voices denounced a violation of the American Constitution, which prohibits “Cruel punishments”.
The contested protocol combines a sedative, midazolam, and an anesthetic, believed to prevent pain before the lethal-dose potassium chloride injection. It had been used in 2014 to execute Clayton Lockett, but the convict had agonized for forty-three minutes in apparent pain. Following several such incidents, a grand jury opened an investigation and the authorities agreed to suspend the application of the death penalty. In 2020, they authorized a new protocol and set several execution dates in 2021. Five executions remain scheduled in the state of Oklahoma by March.