Date scheduled for US man's execution despite doubts about guilt

Washington (AFP) –


Authorities in the US state of Oklahoma on Monday scheduled the execution of a prisoner for November, despite lingering doubts about the man's guilt as the state's parole board has recommended his sentence be commuted.

Julius Jones, 41, was sentenced to death row in 2002 for the murder of a businessman, an accusation Jones has always denied.

Jones, who is Black, claims he was discriminated against during his trial, that he was framed by the real perpetrator and that his first lawyer poorly defended him.

His case has been the subject of a documentary series and podcast, and he has received support from several public figures, including Kim Kardashian, who are convinced of his innocence.

Jones has exhausted all appeals and legal remedies, though the Oklahoma Parole Board last week recommended his sentence be commuted to life in prison.

The decision now sits with Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who has said he plans to carefully review the case.

But the court went ahead and set his execution date for November 18, without waiting for input from the governor, Jones' lawyer Amanda Bass said, along with dates for six other executions.

"Oklahoma must not allow an innocent man to be executed," Bass said in a statement, urging the governor to grant Jones a commutation.

Oklahoma has not carried out a criminal execution in the last six years after suspending the death penalty following two botched lethal injections.

In 2014, inmate Clayton Lockett eventually died after apparently suffering for 43 minutes during a bungled execution attempt, and in 2015, inmate Charles Warner complained he felt like his body was "on fire" before he died during an execution in which officials used a non-standard lethal drug cocktail.