Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt on Thursday granted clemency to death row inmate Julius Jones amid mounting pressure from the public.
Sitt’s decision came just hours before Jones, 41, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday.
“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,” Sitt said in a statement.
Jones, who has maintained his innocence for two decades, was convicted in 1999 over the slaying of Oklahoma businessman Paul Howell.
Sitt was under mounting pressure from the public and several high-profile celebrities including Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
Crowds of demonstrators appeared outside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Thursday to protest Jones’ imminent death sentence.
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