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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) is pleading for mercy for death row inmate, Donald Anthony Grant, who is brain-damaged and suffers from schizophrenia.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) has scheduled Grant’s execution for January 27, 2022. Grant, 46, has been on death row for two decades for the 2001 killing of Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith at a LaQuinta Inn in Del City.

According to his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Emma Rolls, Mr. Grant suffers from schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses; it took five years for Oklahoma to medicate him sufficiently to restore his competency to stand trial. Grant is currently being treated for his mental illness in prison.

Grant’s childhood

The clemency packet filed by Rolls on behalf of Grant states that his mother drank alcohol throughout her pregnancy, causing Grant to suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

His mentally ill and alcoholic father disciplined him as a young child by slamming his head against a pole or against his younger brother’s head. He grew up in an apartment where the adults took crack cocaine. Grant still carries a slug from a bullet that randomly struck him when he was 12. Grant’s family was often homeless.

When the Welfare Department removed him and his brother from his mother’s custody, they raised themselves on the mean streets of Brooklyn. He found it difficult to control his impulsive and explosive behavior. The jury was never made aware of his mental illness. 

Oklahoma one of most active death penalty states

“Mr. Grant should be confined to a mental institution not prison,” said Rev. Don Heath, OK-CADP chair. “Does killing Mr. Grant in our name protect society? Or does it perpetuate a culture of violence by inflicting state violence upon a brain-damaged person who suffered from abuse and neglect in his childhood?”

John Marion Grant was executed by lethal injection on October 28, and the state executed Bigler Stouffer on December 9. At 79, Stouffer was one of the oldest death row detainees to be executed in United States history. Meanwhile, Sean Murphy of the Associated Press reported that John Marion Grant suffered two dozen full-body convulsions and had to have vomit wiped from his mouth twice before he was pronounced dead.

The Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals has issued death warrants setting additional execution dates for Wade Lay (January 6, 2022), Gilbert Postelle (February 17), and James Coddington (March 10).

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...

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