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September 25, 2023

Double murderer Donald Grant executed by lethal injection in Oklahoma

Double murderer Donald Grant executed by lethal injection in Oklahoma

McALESTER, Okla. — An Oklahoma man, who had offered to be executed by firing squad, was put to death via lethal injection on Thursday morning, officials said.

Donald Anthony Grant, 46, was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. CST at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, a state corrections spokesman announced.

The execution began at 10:03 a.m. and Grant was declared unconscious at 10:08 a.m. before his death at 10:16 a.m., said Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow.

There were 18 witnesses to the execution, including news reporters, prosecutors, a police chief and loved ones of Grant and his victims.

Grant’s disjointed final words lasted two minutes, before a prison staff in the execution chamber stopped him and cut off the microphone.

“I got this. This ain’t nothing,” Grant said. “I’m solid, son. No meds, no nothing. I’m solid.”

Grant kept speaking after the microphone was turned off, looking toward his family members sitting in the front row of the witness room.

“I’m going to go to the universe, and then I’ll be back,” he said. “God is here. The true god.”

At one point, tears appeared to be rolling down his face.

Grant killed Brenda McElyea, 29, and Felicia Suzette Smith, 43, so there’d be no witnesses to his robbery at the La Quinta Inn in Del City in July 2001.

“Although Donald Grant’s execution does not bring Brenda back, it allows us all to finally move forward knowing that justice was served,” Shirl Pilcher, a sister of McElyea, told reporters.

Grant was the first person executed in the United States this year and third put to death in in Oklahoma since the state resumed capital punishment after a six-year pause in October last year.

Grant and another death row inmate, Gilbert Postelle, had asked a federal judge to grant them a temporary injunction that would delay their executions until a trial can be held over whether Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection method is constitutional.

They had offered to be killed by firing squad as an alternative, arguing it’d be quicker and less painful.

Grant and other death row inmates in Oklahoma, as well as across the country, have challenged the use of the sedative Midazolam in their executions, arguing the drug is not appropriate for lethal injections and noting its use in several problematic executions.

In October, John Marion Grant heaved and vomited during his execution, causing members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to question the execution process. However, the two executions since then, including Donald Grant’s, were administered without issue.

A trial on the matter is set to begin Feb. 28. But Grant’s scheduled execution was on Thursday at 10 a.m. CST and Postelle’s date with death is set for Feb. 17.

But the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to stay Grant’s execution.

Grant’s death marks the 1,541st execution in the United States since the resumption of capital punishment in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Graham Lee Brewer is a national reporter for NBC News. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation, based in Norman, Oklahoma.

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