Julius Jones gets to live.
Miracle of miracles, a Black man’s life has been spared, and the jubilation of his supporters was being expressed Thursday afternoon.
In a rare, unexpected and stunning move, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt halted Jones’ planned execution just hours before he was to be strapped to a gurney, intubated and extinguished by lethal injection.
Here’s Stitt on Twitter:
Jones will still spend the rest of his life at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, but it beats the alternative.
Only a day ago, journalist Mara Schiavocampo (full disclosure, I co-host a podcast with her), conducted what she assumed to be the final interview with Jones. In TV appearances about the interview, Schiavocampo conveyed his final thoughts to the public, his family and even Howell’s loved ones.
Julius Jones, who is set to be executed on Thursday for the 1999 murder and carjacking of Paul Howell, said that he forgives the Howell family and that he prays for them “constantly.”
During a recent interview with independent journalist Mara Schiavocampo, Jones was asked what he wanted to say to Howell’s family.
“I love them. I love them and I forgive them. They hate me and they don’t really know why, but at the appointed moment, they will know the truth. And one day I hope that they open up their eyes and see the truth, but at this point, I hope they heal first,” Jones said during the interview. “Out of all things, I hope they find healing. I’ve never had any ill will towards them. I don’t wish them ill will. I pray for them constantly.”
Schiavocampo’s interview was conducted via phone and recorded with his permission, she told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. During the conversation he pleaded that he wants the public to believe that he’s no killer, even if he had been put to death. Now he’ll live to argue that point.
Just moments after Stitt’s announcement, Schiavocampo said she had prepared for the inevitability that Jones would be executed. His family, she said, had already said their final goodbyes and Jones had been given his last meal.
“I’d said goodbye to Julius,” she said to me by phone Thursday afternoon. “I’m happy he’s alive. His life matters.”
I asked her if she worried that she might sound too emotionally attached to her subject as a journalist.
“I think faith in the system is important. The state’s own parole board has said twice that something should be re-examined, then it should be re-examined. I don’t think that’s a controversial opinion.”