Oklahoma panel advances convicted killer’s commutation

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma death row inmate has cleared a first hurdle in his quest for a reduced sentence. The Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 on Monday to advance Julius Jones’ commutation request to a second stage. Jones was convicted in the 1999 shooting death of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. State prosecutors say the evidence against Jones is overwhelming and have defended his death sentence. The 40-year-old Jones maintains he is innocent. His case was featured on the ABC television documentary series “The Last Defense,” drawing celebratory support.