Oklahoma inmate dies of vomiting and seizures in first state execution since 2015

Condemned Oklahoma inmate John Grant convulsed and vomited before dying from a cocktail of drugs Thursday when the state carried out its first execution in years despite questions about its lethal injection protocol, a witness from the police reported. death.

Grant, 60, died at 4:21 p.m. (2121 GMT), the state said. It was Oklahoma’s first execution since three failed attempts, including one that was called off because the wrong drug had been dispensed, were stopped in 2015.

The three-drug cocktail aims to first render the recipient unconscious and unable to feel pain, followed by others that lead to death.

But a media witness said Grant convulsed two dozen times and vomited before dying.

“When the drugs started to flow, the first drug, midazolam, took a deep breath,” Sean Murphy said in a news conference posted online. “He started convulsing, about two dozen times, whole-body convulsions.”

The vomit covered his face until a prison official wiped it away, Murphy said.

Dale Baich, one of the attorneys representing Grant, called Thursday’s execution “problematic.”

“There should be no more executions in Oklahoma until we go to trial in February to address the state’s troublesome lethal injection protocol,” Baich said.

Grant had been a plaintiff in a lawsuit that would go to trial next year challenging the three-drug protocol as inhumane, but the state refused to postpone his execution to accommodate the case.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said Grant’s execution was carried out according to its protocols and without complications.

After Grant’s death Thursday, his attorney, Sarah Jernigan, said she had tried to atone for and understand his actions “more than any other client he has ever worked with.”

She said she was the victim of brutality both at home and at the hands of Oklahoma’s youth detention system, and that she did not receive adequate mental health treatment before she murdered prison employee Gay Carter in 1998 while incarcerated. for another crime.

Last-minute intervention by the United States Supreme Court overturned the stay of execution of Grant and Julius Jones, who is scheduled to be executed on November 18.

Jones, 41, was sentenced to death for murdering an insurance executive shot and killed in his driveway. He has maintained his innocence for two decades in a case that has attracted the attention of celebrities and anti-death penalty activists.

In ordering the state to delay the executions on Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court had unfairly denied delays granted by two men to many other defendants who defied the lethal injection protocol. .

But on Thursday the Supreme Court overturned that suspension without commenting further on the case.

Attorneys for Grant and five other convicted inmates had argued that the state violated their right to religious freedom by asking them to name an acceptable method of execution, which the inmates said required them to participate in their own deaths.

They also argued that Oklahoma’s most recent lethal injection protocol is too similar to an earlier method that led to the botched executions.

The planned executions go against trends in most US states, where the use of the death penalty is declining.

Thirty-six US states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty or carried out no execution in the past 10 years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks executions.

Conservative states, including Texas and Missouri, however, have bucked that trend, as has the administration of former US Republican President Donald Trump, which resumed federal executions in 2020 after a 17-year hiatus. , with the death of 13 prisoners.

The local archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church called for an end to capital punishment and asked parishioners to pray for Grant.


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