Donald Grant and Gilbert Postelle: Death rowers want execution by firing squad over lethal injection
Two death row inmates in Oklahoma are requesting to be executed by firing squad after the state's three-drug lethal injection has resulted in several botched executions. Donald Grant and Gilbert Postelle submitted their request to US District Judge Stephen Friot on Monday, January 10.
The death row inmates want the judge to grant them a temporary injunction on their upcoming executions until a trial can determine whether Oklahoma's three-drug lethal injection method is constitutional. Grant was convicted of killing two Del City hotel employees in 2001. Meanwhile, Postelle was convicted of targeting and killing four people in 2005 after believing they had injured his father in a motorcycle accident. A trial is slated to begin on February 28, but Grant is scheduled to be executed on January 27 and Postelle on February 17.
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"While it may be gruesome to look at, we all agree it will be quicker," attorney Jim Stronski told Judge Friot after a hearing in Oklahoma City. While Friot hasn't issued a decision on the motion as yet, he said he hoped to issue an order by the end of the week. "There's a lot for me to get my mind around," the judge remarked.
Dr James Williams, an emergency medicine specialist from Texas who has extensively studied the use of firing squads, was one of the experts who testified in court. He explained that shots from at least four high-powered rifles to the 'cardiac bundle' of the heart would cause a rather quick and painless death. The expert said that, unlike lethal injection, the likelihood of a botched execution by firing squad is extremely low.
According to the Daily Mail, the state of Oklahoma has never used a firing squad as an execution method since statehood. However, state law allows it to be used as an alternative if other methods like lethal injection are deemed to be unconstitutional or otherwise unavailable.
That said, there are currently no execution protocols other than lethal injection in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The first botched execution took place in April 2014, when inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection. This was after the state prisons chief asked the executioners to stop the procedure.
Justin Farris, chief of operations at the Department of Corrections, also testified in court about the recent lethal injections of death row inmates John Marion Grant and Bigler Stouffer late last year. He described the two lethal injections — for which he was present — as being on the "opposite ends of the spectrum."
Farris recalled how the case of Marion Grant, serving a 130-year sentence, who had dragged a prison cafeteria worker Gay Carter into a mop closet and stabbed her 16 times. Grant reportedly vomited and convulsed on the execution gurney before he was declared dead. He reportedly hurled angry expletives throughout and resisted the execution by trying to flex his arms and legs. On the other hand, Stouffer was "just as polite as you can imagine under the circumstances," Farris said. He also testified that the doctor who oversees and conducts the lethal injections is paid $15,000 for each execution attended, aside from $1,000 for every day of training.