Donald Grant: Oklahoma man to be executed on Jan 27 after SCOTUS denies firing squad plea
Donald Anthony Grant will become the first person to be executed in 2022 by a US state after the US Supreme Court refused to stay his execution. Grant's execution is scheduled to go ahead on January 27, 2022, at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. It comes after his lawyers made several attempts to avoid execution by lethal injection, currently the only approved method in Oklahoma.
As we reported days ago, Grant has been fighting his execution arguing for a firing squad rather than lethal injection. The concerns were raised after a series of botched executions all over the US, leaving inmates in severe agony. It's led many states to reconsider options for the death penalty, such as Arizona, which in May 2021 announced it planned to use hydrogen cyanide. The same year, South Carolina reinstated its firing squad and made the electric chair a default if drugs for lethal injection were not available.
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Issues in administration aside, several states are also facing issues in sourcing the drugs required for lethal injections, after manufacturers refused to supply them for executions. However, Oklahoma doesn't seem to have that issue just yet and will administer the injections to Grant.
Who is Donald Grant?
The 46-year-old has been incarcerated since he was convicted in a 2001 robbery-turned-murder. Grant reportedly killed two workers at the LaQuinta Inn in Del City - Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith - while robbing the hotel in a bid to raise bail money for his girlfriend. He confessed to doing so, saying he did it to ensure there were no witnesses who could identify him. During court hearings, it was revealed that the two begged Grant to spare their lives, but he still went ahead and shot and stabbed them.
In November 2021, Grant expressed "deep, sincere remorse" during a clemency hearing, but the board voted 4-1 against recommending clemency. That verdict came despite Grant's lawyers arguing he suffered from schizophrenia and brain damage. Following that verdict, he was put on death row, which then led to an argument about how he would be executed. Grant's lawyers asked a federal judge to temporarily halt his execution while asking for him to be added as a plaintiff in a separate lawsuit against lethal injection in the state.
The lawsuit claims the method should be ruled out because it puts the individual at "a risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering." However, that request was denied by both a federal judge and a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel. Grant then took his case to the US Supreme Court, which gave their verdict on January 26, siding with the lower courts.
With that verdict, Grant will become the first person to be executed in 2022, with dozens more scheduled in the months ahead. Opponents of the death penalty have announced plans to picket against the execution at 9:00 AM outside the Governor's office. "Donald Grant should be confined to a mental institution, not prison," one person told The Oklahoman. However, since the board voted against clemency, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt cannot intervene, meaning the execution will go ahead.