Grant’s execution comes with controversy as he was denied the right to be a part of a lawsuit concerning Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocols.
On Jan. 27, Oklahoma executed its third death row inmate, Donald Grant, since resuming capital punishment after the botched executions of Clayton Derrell Lockett and John Marion Grant. Grant was a 46-year-old disabled Black man convicted for the murders of Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith in 2001. In an unusual appeal, Grant and Gilbert Postelle requested to die by firing squad, saying that it would be less painful than lethal injection. A federal judge denied Grant’s request.
Grant’s request to join the federal lawsuit concerning Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocols was also denied. Currently, 24 death row inmates are involved in the lawsuit that is scheduled to begin on Feb. 28. The lawsuit argues that the protocols used in Oklahoma violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, the use of the sedative midazolam has been called into question as it has caused multiple instances of botched executions. Grant’s attorneys argue that he should have been given a stay of execution until the verdict of the lawsuit.
A small protest gathered outside of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary to object to the execution of Grant. Among this protest was a small group of priests who prayed for Grant, his murder victims and those that work at the prison. This group of priests have hosted these public prayer vigils for decades in hopes of instigating change as death by lethal injection is considered an unnatural death in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
A petition received over 7,000 signatures urging for Grant’s execution to be stopped. The petition stated, “Donald Grant’s mental illness and congenital and acquired brain damage was so severe that it took five years for Mr Grant to be stabilized where he could somewhat assist his attorneys in his defense. There was no assurance Mr Grant was even competent to be put on trial, but he was in 2005 and sentenced to death.”
According to Oklahoma Attorney General, John O’Connor, Grant’s execution was carried out with zero complications at 10:16 a.m. This makes for the second successful execution since the resumption of the death penalty.
Including the families of his victims, 18 individuals witnessed the death of Grant. According to eyewitnesses, Grant’s last words were, “yo God I got this, I got this, it’s nothing. I’ve got things to handle, no doubt, no doubt. Brooklyn for life. I’m going to go to the universe, and then I’ll be back. God is here. The true God.” He is reported to have continued speaking until a prison staff member entered the chamber and turned off the microphone.
Gilbert Postelle was executed this past week on Feb. 17. Postelle was also denied the right to join the federal lawsuit.