Oklahoma inmate Julius Jones had his sentence commuted Thursday, and will not be executed. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt reduced Jones' sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a number of people — including athletes and celebrities — publicly advocated for Jones.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield choked up Wednesday while explaining why he supports Jones' sentence being commuted.
Mayfield responded to Thursday's news by thanking everyone who fought for Jones.
God is GREAT!!! Thank you to everybody that prayed and continued to pray! @JuliusOklahoma
— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) November 18, 2021
Mayfield is not the only athlete who expressed support for Jones. Blake Griffin, Buddy Hield, Russell Westbrook and Trae Young all wrote letters to Stitt asking for Jones' death sentence to be commuted. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott also wrote a letter to Stitt.
Prescott reacted to the news as well, saying he was "very thankful" Stitt commuted Jones' sentence.
The case of Julius Jones resonated with Dak Prescott in a time of grief, emboldening action. He read the story 2 weeks after his brother’s death.
“I felt like I didn’t help my brother [Jace], or I couldn’t help my brother. I wanted to help somebody else save their life.” https://t.co/A3KPSA4xRU
— Brianna Dix (@DixBrianna) November 18, 2021
Prescott said he would keep fighting for Jones to try and get the "case looked at again."
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers talked about Jones after their win against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, and credited Mayfield, Prescott and other athletes for saving Jones' life.
Doc Rivers finished tonight talking about Julius Jones: “You could make the case Blake Griffin, Trae Young, Steph Curry, Baker Mayfield just saved someone’s life.”
“The power of players’ voices just saved someone’s life. And that’s powerful.” pic.twitter.com/iG9ow4uSNP
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) November 19, 2021
Jones, 41, was charged and convicted with the murder of Paul Howell during a 1999 carjacking. Jones claims he is innocent, and that his co-defendant, Christopher Jordan, was responsible for shooting Howell. Jordan was released from prison after 15 years as part of a plea deal.
Jones was due to be executed Thursday. Stitt made the decision to commute Jones' sentence hours before the scheduled execution. In a statement, Stitt said he did so after "reviewing materials presented by all sides."
In addition to letters and statements by athletes, over six million people signed a petition asking that Jones not be executed.