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Executing a fourth inmate in less than a year, the state of Oklahoma pronounced Gilbert Ray Postelle dead at 10:14 a.m. at the McAlester prison.

The killing by lethal injection comes days before a scheduled Court hearing on February 28 to determine whether Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol is constitutional.

Convicted of murdering four people in a 2005 shooting spree, a sister of one of Postelle’s victims expressed gratitude over the state-sanctioned murder.

In a speech after the execution, Shelli Miner said Postelle’s death made her feel better and she wishes that Paul Howell’s family was able to have the same feeling, according to Frontier journalist Dylan Goforth.

Notably, Julius Jones, was spared from death row hours ahead of his planned execution on November 17, 2021 over the killing of businessman Paul Howell in 1999. Millions have supported Jones’ claim of innocence. Religious leaders, community organizers, students, and politicians successfully came together to push Stitt to commute Jones’ sentence.

Meanwhile, Miner’s speech suggesting Postelle’s killing made her feel better, along with her suggestion that Julius Jones should also have been killed, points to the reality of the state’s motive for killing human beings. For state leaders and the families that support it, the death penalty isn’t about justice. It’s about revenge.

clemency julius jones oklahoma governor stitt
Community leaders wait anxiously for the governor to grant clemency hours ahead of Julius Jones’ scheduled execution on Nov. 17, 2021. (Chris Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)
Community leaders wait anxiously for the governor to grant clemency hours ahead of Julius Jones’ scheduled execution on Nov. 17, 2021. (Chris Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

Oklahoma executes man with mental illness

Opponents of the death penalty, along with Gilbert Postelle’s attorneys, have called attention to his severe mental illness, saying he became addicted to Methamphetamine at the age of 12.

Ahead of the execution, The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) held a vigil outside the Governor’s Mansion, protesting the taking of a life for a life.

“Only the morally ill execute the mentally ill, which is becoming commonplace in Oklahoma. It diminishes the humanity in all of us.” Don Heath, OK-CADP Chair, said in a statement shared with The Black Wall Street Times.

Today the State of Oklahoma killed another person suffering from mental deficits; a person unable to make rational decisions as a young kid influenced by a parent,” OK-CADP Board Member Randy Bauman added. “Gil Postelle as an adult deeply regretted what he did in his youth. He still suffered mentally, but was liked by those who got to know him and loved by many; a person now purposefully dead at the hands of the State of Oklahoma with absolutely nothing gained in his death.”

State goes on killing spree

The latest execution of Gilbert Postelle marks the fourth state-sanctioned killing since appointed Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor broke a nearly six-year moratorium on the practice. Oklahoma’s recent death penalty history is filled with botched executions, racist outcomes, and unconstitutional suffering inflicted on prisoners. 

Black men are disproportionately more likely to be executed in Oklahoma. In fact, Oklahoma prosecutors are more likely to call for the death penalty in cases where the victim of a murder is White and less likely to call for it if the victim is Black or Hispanic, according to a 2017 report from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.

The upcoming Feb. 28 hearing is supposed to determine whether Oklahoma is properly administering the morbid deed. Yet, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and AG O’Connor sailed through four executions before a judge could determine whether it’s appropriate.

For instance, both John Grant and Bigler Stouffer had fluid in their lungs when they died, according to a medical examiner’s report. Meanwhile, the practice of killing remains a lucrative side-job for doctors willing to participate.

The state continues to pay a medical doctor $15,000 for each execution, despite the ethical duty to preserve life rather than take it. 

The state also remains embroiled in a lawsuit over its refusal to release the source of its lethal injection drugs. As most pharmaceutical companies have refused to supply states with drugs for executions, many are wondering where and how Oklahoma is getting its drugs.

Ultimately, with its cemented status as one of the most active death penalty states, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, the upcoming Court hearing may be the only thing standing in the way of the state’s killing spree.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...