October 2 (WNN) — Lawyers for an Oklahoma inmate who has been sentenced to death have filed a petition for clemency less than a month before his scheduled execution.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on September 20 scheduled the execution of John Grant on October 28 – the first in the state since 2015. The state has also scheduled five other executions to take place through March.
Grant, 60, is due to be heard before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Tuesday.
In his clemency petition, Grant’s lawyers pointed to a history of abuse and neglect at state-run institutions as a child. He was sent to juvenile custody at the age of 12 for stealing food and clothes for his eight siblings.
The petition states that the institutions run by the state’s Department of Human Rights have been the subject of “a widespread, nationally publicized scandal” that became known as the “Oklahoma shame”.
“John Grant never in life suffered serious abuse at the hands of his mother and later at state-run institutions in Oklahoma, whose horrific abuses are a well-documented scandal,” said Sarah Jernigan, Grant’s attorney. . “Yet he is deeply remorseful for his actions and has worked to redeem himself while in captivity. We hope that Oklahoma will give him a second chance by showing mercy, allowing him to spend the rest of his life in prison rather than Will allow you to live in jail.”
The petition also states that Grant had incompetent trial lawyers, who accused his lawyers of failing to investigate elements of the crime and Grant’s history. One of the lawyers has been suspended for unprofessional conduct.
Grant was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of prison worker Gay Carter, whom Grant was serving a prison sentence for four armed robberies.
The state announced on February 13, 2020, that it planned to resume executions due to the failed execution of a convicted murderer following a false drug use.
Government Kevin Stitt said that after considering the option of using nitrogen gas for executions, the state has now got a “reliable supply of drugs” to resume lethal injection.
Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol came under scrutiny in 2014, when Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack amid complications during his execution.
Autopsy reports released a year later indicated that Oklahoma corrections officials used the wrong drug — potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride — during the procedure. Lockett complained of a burning sensation and attempted to raise her head and speak after doctors declared her unconscious.
The same erroneous drug was distributed to corrections officers for use in the planned 2015 execution of Richard Glossip. Former Governor Mary Ballin canceled Glossip’s execution with a last-minute, indefinite stay after learning of the discrepancy.
Oklahoma has carried out only one other execution since the death of Charles Warner in January 2015 of Lockett. He received a nine-month stay because of a previous unsuccessful lethal injection.
Since then, since attempting to secure a supply of lethal injection drugs, the state has imposed an unofficial moratorium on executions. Oklahoma uses a three-drug cocktail of midazolam, vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride.
Execution has changed in the United States in recent years after states phased out the required lethal injection drug pentobarbital. In 2011 the European Union voted to ban the sale of the drug and seven other barbiturates to the United States for use in torture or execution. Other drug companies have refused to sell drugs directly for lethal injection purposes, and some will only sell if their names are kept confidential.
Now states are being forced to use new drug cocktails, scramble to restore their stores of drugs and review their lethal injection policies.
In 2018, the Office of the Attorney General of Oklahoma announced that it would use nitrogen gas inhalation as the primary method of execution. Officials, however, had difficulty finding a manufacturer to sell a method for administering the gas for execution. Additionally, state law states that nitrogen hypoxia may only be used if drugs for lethal injection are not available.
In August, a federal judge ruled that the state’s lethal injection protocol could be prosecuted by a group of inmates who challenged it. Many of the 26 death row inmates who were part of the trial were turned away because they did not choose an alternative form of execution, including Coddington, Jones and John Grant.