Death row inmate Julius Jones, who has maintained he didn’t commit murder and had his case championed by Kim Kardashian, has taken a step toward clemency.
Oklahoma’s parole board recommended 3-1 that Jones, who was convicted of murdering businessman Paul Howell in 1999, be granted clemency and commute his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to reports.
Jones 41, testified via video link from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Several members of the panel agreed they had doubts about the evidence that led to Jones’ conviction, according to the Daily Mail .
“I continue to believe there is still doubt in this case,” said board member Kelly Doyle.
Howell’s family was not pleased by the outcome and said that their case has been overshadowed by all of the support for Jones, which included a Viola Davis-supported documentary.
“This is David versus Goliath,” Clayton Howell, Paul Howell’s nephew, told KFOR last month. “We don’t have the PR firm. We don’t have the Hollywood backing, but we have the truth, and we’re sitting here willing to tell it.”
Family members said they saw the murder and argued Jones committed it, but the pardon panel expressed doubts.
The Innocence Project maintains that Julius Jones was “at home having dinner with his parents and sister at the time of the murder; however, his legal team failed to present his alibi at his original trial. His trial attorneys did not call Mr. Jones or his family members to the stand.”
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals had set a Nov. 18 execution date for Jones. The governor of the state must still allow the clemency decision.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story implied clemency was granted by the governor.