Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The 72-year-old has been on death row for the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in 1978
The governor of Oklahoma has commuted the death sentence of a 72-year-old man whose execution was set for Monday night, 12 hours before it was due to take place.
The announcement by Governor Mary Fallin came hours after a last-minute appeal was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Oklahoma.
Julius Jones was convicted of rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl.
Oklahoma is one of two states that allow midazolam, an anesthetic which has caused controversy in recent executions.
Compounding a crime
In 1978, Jones was convicted of the murder of Annette Welch Green, who had been attacked while jogging in rural Oklahoma. He was also found guilty of rape, lewdness and oral sodomy.
The ruling on his execution delayed his sentence from being carried out until at least Thursday.
CALL FOR EFFECTIVE PROTECTION OF BODIES OF LOVED ONES IN POTENTIAL FOR DEATH KILLERS CITIZENS PARTICIPATE IN DRIVING LAWSUIT ABOUT THE POTENTIAL RUIN OF THE ABILITY TO DIE ON THIS EARTH PRIOR TO PUNISHMENT CLAIMING EVIDENCE THE GRAPHIC VIDEO COULD BE CONCEALED – LISTEN HERE: https://t.co/zLOtQltYMW pic.twitter.com/0OaEMYqjd9 — ACLU🌈 (@ACLU) March 18, 2019
Jones was also allowed to appear for the hearing via video link from Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma.
A hearing on Jones’ competency to be executed was also scheduled to take place before he was due to be executed.
Deborah Denno, professor of criminal law at Fordham University Law School, told the BBC that Jones should have been ruled not competent to plead guilty or be put to death in the first place.
In 2014, a legal challenge against the use of midazolam in the execution of Clayton Lockett sparked a national debate.
He took 75 minutes to die, with observers describing the process as almost inhuman.
The United States has had a moratorium on executions since 2000
Julius Jones is one of at least 11 inmates, including an Oklahoma woman convicted of killing her three sons, currently facing the death penalty in the US.
She was also allowed to go live behind bars after her execution.
Drugmaker Nebraska has refused to supply Oklahoma and other states with drugs to carry out the death penalty, after huge cost-cutting and lack of manufacturers for some of the drugs.
In a report released last year, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said that medical facilities in Oklahoma had noted shortages in midazolam, which was typically used in executions.
It has since been banned in the United States.
In a statement on Saturday, the group described the revocation of Jones’ execution as “an action aimed at addressing injustices in Oklahoma”.