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After the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for a stay, Oklahoma proceeded with its planned execution of Donald Anthony Grant.
Grant, 46, was declared dead at 10:16 on Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, according to the Oklahoman.
It marks the third execution of an Oklahoma detainee since the state’s attorney general removed a moratorium on capital punishment. For nearly seven years, a moratorium had been in place on executions in the state due to several botched attempts.
Grant was sentenced to die for the murder of Del City hotel workers Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith in 2001. Yet, the state ignored Donald Grant’s schizophrenic mental illness and proceeded with his state-sanctioned murder.
To be sure, the murdered victims were shot, stabbed, and beaten. Grant confessed to committing the brutal crimes in order to steal money to bail his girlfriend out of jail.
Meanwhile, at least one psychologist reported in 2001 that Grant “lapses into paranoid ramblings regarding the President, CIA, FBI, Congress, and, most significantly when I saw him, the United Nations being of the devil and going against the ‘Five percenters’ who are the ‘true believers.’”
“Executing someone as mentally ill and brain damaged as Donald Grant is out of step with evolving standards of decency,” his attorneys previously told the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board at a hearing asking for clemency.
Executions decline nationally while some states ramp it up
Ahead of the execution, organizers from Death Penalty Action and the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held a vigil outside the governor’s mansion.
While the Parole Board voted 4-1 to deny Grant clemency, Governor Stitt refused to use his executive powers to halt capital punishment. It’s a sign that future executions will continue despite Julius Jones’ commuted sentence in November of 2021.
Taking a life for a life, Oklahoma continues to cement its status as the second-most active death penalty state in the nation.
An upcoming trial on the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol takes place on February 28. Meanwhile, the state has refused to halt executions before the trial’s outcome. Donald Grant wasn’t allowed to enter the lawsuit that sparked the trial.
Overall, executions have trended down nationally, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Yet states like Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas and others continue to seek creative ways to distribute retribution. Alabama was also set to execute a mentally ill Black man on Thursday. However, Matthew Reeves was granted a stay of his execution by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, citing an intellectual disability.
“We can see the end of the death penalty coming in the United States,” said Abraham Bonowitz of Death Penalty Action. “But first it’s likely to get bloody.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General John O’Connor cheered on the execution.
“The State’s execution of Donald Grant was carried out with zero complications at 10:16 this morning. Justice is now served for Brenda McElyea, Felecia Suzette Smith, and the people of Oklahoma,” The AG’s office said in a statement.