Thursday, January 20, 2022

Judge refuses to grant stays for two death row inmates in Oklahoma

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Donald Grant is scheduled to be executed on January 27th and Gilbert Postelle is scheduled to die on February 17th. The two men’s lawyers said the use of midazolam in his three-drug lethal injection cocktail was inappropriate.

Jan 14 (News) – A federal judge on Friday declined to stay the scheduled executions of two Oklahoma death row inmates over problems with the drugs used in the state’s lethal injection protocol.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot of the Western District of Oklahoma refused to block the state’s scheduled executions, saying the two men probably couldn’t prove using the drug would cause more pain than that from putting in the IV .

Oklahoma and several other states use midazolam as a tranquilizer in their execution records. The state then administers vecuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant, and potassium chloride, which the Death Penalty Information Center says stops the heart.

Donald Grant and Postelle are among several Oklahoma death row inmates suing the state over its lethal injection protocol after previous botched executions.

The state announced on February 13, 2020 that it plans to resume executions nearly six years after using the wrong drug led to the botched execution of a convicted murderer.

Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol was put to the test in 2014 when Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack due to complications during his execution.

Autopsy reports released a year later showed Oklahoma Correctional Facility officials used the wrong drug — potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride — during the trial. Lockett complained of a burning sensation and tried to raise his head and speak after doctors said he was unconscious.

The same fake drug was supplied to correctional officers for use in the 2015 planned execution of Richard Glossip. Former Governor Mary Ballin canceled Glossip’s execution with an indefinite stay at the last minute after learning of the discrepancy.

Oklahoma carried out two executions in 2021 after punishment resumed, that of John Grant on October 28 and that of Bigler Stouffer on December 8.

Postelle was sentenced to death for the 2008 murders of James Alderson and Amy Wright at a Del City trailer park. He received a reduced sentence for killing Donnie Swindle and Terry Smith.

Donald Grant was sentenced to death in 2001 for the murders of two Del City motel employees, Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith.

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