Oklahoma prepares to execute man for 2001 hotel murders

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma prepared to execute a man on Thursday for the brutal murder of two hotel workers during a 2001 robbery.

Donald Anthony Grant, 46, is to receive a lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He will be the first person executed in the United States this year, and the third in Oklahoma since the state resumed lethal injections in October after a nearly seven-year hiatus.

At a clemency hearing in November, 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 the two women were shot and stabbed, and Smith was also bludgeoned. Prosecutors say the two women also begged Grant to spare their lives before he killed them.

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

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

Two of Grant’s attorneys, 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.

“Mercy is in order in this case,” Otto told the panel. “He recognizes that this man, mentally ill and suffering from brain damage, is not a simple target of execution.”

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

McElyea’s sister, Shirl Filcher, 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,” Filcher said. “I had never seen him cry, but that night I heard him cry and it broke my heart.”

Grant also asked a federal judge to temporarily stay 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 death. unconstitutional pain and 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.

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