McALESTER (Okla.) The Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted a six-year-old moratorium on executions. On Thursday, it imposed the death penalty for a man who convulsed before dying. This was his sentence for 1998 murder of a prison cafeteria worker.
John Marion Grant, 60 years old, was tied to a gurney in the execution chamber. He began vomiting and convulsing after the first drug, midazolam (sedative), was administered. Two members of the execution team removed the vomit from Grant's neck and face several minutes later.
Grant was heard shouting, "Let's go!" before the curtain was lifted to allow witnesses access to the execution chamber. Let's go! Let's go! Before the lethal injection began, he delivered a torrent of profanities. He was declared unconscious approximately 15 minutes after the first three drugs were administered, and declared dead six minutes later at 4:21 p.m.
Grant was the first prisoner to be executed after a series of flawed lethal shots in 2014 and 2015. Grant was in 130-years prison for several armed robberies. Witnesses claim he pulled Gay Carter, a prison cafeteria worker, into a mop closet where he stabbed her 16 more times with a homemade shank. In 1999, he was sentenced to death.
"At least now we're starting to get justice für unsere Angehörigen," Carter's daughter Pamela Gay Carter said in a statement. The death penalty protects any future victims. Grant committed an act that endangered an innocent person's life even after he was expelled from society. I pray for justice to be done for the loved ones of all the victims. You all have my heartfelt prayers.
After the U.S. Supreme Court lifted execution stays that had been in place Wednesday for Grant and Julius Jones (a death row inmate), in a 5-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Grants' request for clemency was denied twice by the states Pardon and Parole Board, with a 3-2 vote in February to reject a recommendation that Grants be spared.
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Oklahoma was home to one of the most notorious death chambers in the country until problems in 2014/2015 led to a moratorium. Richard Glossip, who was about to be executed in September 2015, was saved by prison officials when they realized that they had received the wrong lethal medication. Later, it was discovered that the same drug used to execute another inmate in January 2015 had been mistakenly administered.
Following a botched execution in April 2014, Clayton Lockett, an inmate, died after he struggled on a chair. He was 43 minutes into his lethal dose. The state prisons chief then ordered that executioners stop.
Despite the moratorium being in place, Oklahoma continued to plan to use nitrogen gas for executions of inmates. However, it eventually scrapped the idea and announced last January that it would resume executions using the same three drug lethal injection protocol used in the failed executions. These drugs include midazolam (a sedative), vecuronium bromide (a paralytic) and potassium chloride (which stops the heart).
Oklahoma prison officials announced recently that they have confirmed a source for all drugs required for Grant's execution and six additional that will be performed through March.
In order to make sure that the process runs smoothly, extensive validations and redundancies were implemented since the last execution, according to a statement by the Department of Corrections.
A federal lawsuit is being filed by more than twenty-two Oklahoma death row prisoners challenging the state's lethal injection protocols. They claim that the three drug method could cause unconstitutional pain or suffering. An early next year trial is planned.
Grant and five other death row prisoners were removed from the lawsuit because they did not choose an alternative method of execution. This was despite federal judges stating that Grant was not required to do so. The panel, which included three members of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that inmates had identified alternative execution methods, even though they did not specifically tick a box indicating which method they would use. Grant and Jones were granted stay of execution by the panel on Wednesday. Their lethal injection is scheduled for November 18.
Jones' case, which has attracted national attention since it was featured on ABC's 2018 documentary series The Last Defense, has a Tuesday clemency hearing. Jones, 41 years old, maintains his innocence in the shooting death of an Oklahoma City businessman in 1999. In March, the state Pardons and Parole Board recommended that Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was commuted from death.
Stitt stated that he would not make a decision about whether Jones' life should be spared until the clemency hearing.
Grant and his lawyers did not deny that Carter was killed.
John Grant accepted full responsibility for Gay Carter's murder, and he spent his time on death row trying understand and atone for it, more than any other client that I have worked with," Sarah Jernigan, attorney, said in a statement Thursday after the execution.
Grant's lawyers argued that the jury was not presented with key facts regarding the crime and Grant's difficult childhood. Grant had deep feelings for Carter, and was angry when she fired him following a fight with another cook.
Jurors were never told that Mr. Grant had killed Ms. His attorneys wrote that Gay Carter was in the throes of passion and despair at the sudden end to the most important and deepest adult relationship of his lifetime.
Pamela Carter also worked at the prison, and was there when her mother was murdered. She rejected the notion that Grant and Grant had any kind of relationship beyond a professional one, and asked state officials to proceed with execution.
While I can understand that he is trying to save his own life, you continue to victimize my mother with your stupid accusations. She told the Pardon and Parole Board last month. My mother was lively. She was warm and friendly. She never met a stranger. She treated her employees the same way you would treat someone working on the outside. It is very egregious for someone to profit from that.