Oklahoma executes man for murder of 2 hotel workers in 2001

McALESTER, Okla. – Oklahoma executed a man on Thursday for the brutal murder of two hotel workers during a 2001 robbery.

Donald Grant, 46, received a lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester and was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. It was the first execution in the United States in 2022 and the third in Oklahoma since the state resumed lethal injections in October following a nearly seven-year hiatus.

“Yo, God, I get it,” Grant said as he lay strapped to the stretcher, uttering his rambling last words for two minutes. “No meds. I didn’t take anything. Brooklyn for life.”

At one point Grant began to sing unintelligible.

Even after Grant was informed that his two minutes to speak his last words were over and the microphone inside the execution chamber was turned off, Grant continued to speak to approximately seven witnesses who witnessed the execution. execution in his name.

A few minutes later, Grant’s eyelids began to droop and he appeared to be asleep. After a doctor entered the room to perform a consciousness check, rubbing his sternum and calling his name, Grant could be heard snoring as a prison official pronounced him unconscious at 10:09 p.m. He seemed to stop breathing about two minutes later.

Shirl Pilcher, the sister of one of Grant’s victims, Brenda McElyea, said her family believed justice had been served.

“While Donald Grant’s execution doesn’t bring Brenda back, it allows us all to finally move on knowing that justice has been served,” Pilcher said after witnessing his execution.

Grant had asked a federal judge to temporarily halt his execution, arguing that he should be reinstated as a plaintiff in a separate lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection protocol as posing a risk of pain and of unconstitutional suffering. But a federal judge and a three-judge panel at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver previously denied that request. The United States Supreme Court denied Grant’s request on Wednesday.

Several Oklahoma death row inmates with pending execution dates have sought to delay their executions after John Grant convulsed on the stretcher and vomited after receiving the first dose of the sedative midazolam during his execution in October.

John Grant’s execution was the state’s first since problems with state lethal injection protocols in 2014 and 2015 led to a de facto moratorium. Richard Glossip was just hours away from his execution in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had been given the deadly wrong drug. It was later learned that the same bad drug was used to execute an inmate in January 2015.

The drug medleys followed a botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a stretcher before dying 43 minutes after his lethal injection – and after the state prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.

At a clemency hearing in November, Donald Grant admitted to killing Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith so there would be no witnesses to his robbery at the Del City Hotel. Court records show that the two women were shot and stabbed, and Smith was also bludgeoned. Prosecutors say the two women also begged him to spare their lives before he killed them.

At the November hearing, he expressed ‘deep and sincere remorse’ and apologized for the killings, but the state’s Pardons and Parole Board voted 4-1 against the clemency recommendation .

“I can’t change that,” he said of the crime when addressing the board. “If I could, I would, but I can’t change that.”

Two of Donald Grant’s lawyers, Susan Otto and Emma Rolls of the Federal Public Defender’s Office, argued that he was mentally ill and had suffered brain damage that made him a candidate for clemency. They also discussed Grant’s childhood growing up in a New York housing project during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, a time when he was frequently beaten and his family members suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction and of mental illness.

But the council also heard from members of McElyea’s family, who tearfully urged them to reject clemency for him.

Pilcher, McElyea’s sister, recalled the pain she felt when she had to tell their father that McElyea had been killed.

“I had to call my dad and tell him his daughter, his granddaughter, was dead,” Pilcher said. “I had never seen him cry, but that night I heard him cry and it broke my heart.”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday considered whether to let Alabama execute a death row inmate who claims intellectual disability combined with state inattention cost him a chance to avoid the injection lethal. The state executed Matthew Reeves, 43, by lethal injection Thursday night.


This story has been corrected to show the correct spelling of Shirl Pilcher’s last name.

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