OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma executed its first death row inmate since 2015 on Thursday.
The U.S. Supreme Court lifted a delay on Oklahoma executions Thursday afternoon, only two hours ahead of the scheduled execution of John Grant. A court had ruled Wednesday to temporarily delay the first two executions in Oklahoma since 2015, but the state appealed to the Supreme Court to lift the delay.
The Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester held Grant's execution via lethal injection shortly after 4 p.m. 2 News Oklahoma's Sharon Phillips was among the handful of media witnesses to Grant's execution.
Phillips said Grant started convulsing when the Midazolam was administered, then vomited on himself multiple times before the second and third drugs were administered. Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy, a witness to 14 previous executions, said he had never seen someone vomit and compared Grant's convulsions to those of the botched execution of Clayton Lockett.
Phillips said Grant lifted his head at 4:14 before being declared unconscious one minute later. Grant's official time of death was 4:21 p.m.
KOCO reported the Department of Corrections said "Inmate Grant's execution was carried out in accordance with Oklahoma Department of Correction protocols and without complication."
Several other death row inmates are still in the process of challenging the state's lethal-injection procedure despite the upcoming scheduled executions.
Grant was originally serving time for armed robbery charges when he stabbed and killed Gay Carter, a 58-year-old Dick Conner Correctional Center employee, in 1998. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 2000.
His original execution date was delayed after a botched lethal injection left an inmate writhing in pain on a gurney in 2014 and a mix-up in drugs in 2015, according to the Associated Press.
His attorney released this statement after the execution.
“John Grant took full responsibility for the murder of Gay Carter, and he spent his years on death row trying to understand and atone for his actions, more than any other client I have worked with.
“However, we must not forget Oklahoma’s hand in this tragic story. When John stole to feed and clothe himself and his siblings, Oklahoma labeled him a delinquent instead of a desperate and traumatized child left to fend for himself. John wasn’t even a teenager yet when Oklahoma sent him to the first of several state-run youth detention facilities. ‘Oklahoma Shame’ would later be the label affixed to the horrors that occurred inside the walls of these facilities during John’s time there, after national investigations uncovered years of institutional abuse. John’s trauma from these facilities was so deep that he was simply unable to speak about it; what we learned of the myriad abuses he endured comes from others.
“Oklahoma ultimately dumped John on the streets with no skills and no support for the mental illness that was exacerbated by years of being both the victim of and witness to beatings, rapes, and extended periods in solitary confinement, amongst other abuses. When he committed a robbery at age seventeen, Oklahoma sent him to an adult prison, subjecting him to further victimization, as later documented in a class-action lawsuit.
“Through all of this, John never received the mental health care he needed or deserved in prison. And when he eventually committed a violent crime, the murder of a prison worker, Oklahoma provided him with incompetent lawyers who had no business handling a case with the ultimate punishment at stake.
“I pray John Grant is at peace now, and I pray his death brings peace and closure to Ms. Carter’s family.”
- Sarah Jernigan, attorney for John Marion Grant
From Governor Kevin Stitt:
“When I took the oath of office as Governor, I swore to support, obey, and defend the laws and Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, including Section 9A of Article 2 which was added in 2016 by the people of Oklahoma. The Department of Corrections carried out the law of the State of Oklahoma and delivered justice to Gay Carter’s family.”
Julius Jones is scheduled for execution on Nov. 18.
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