Convicted Oklahoma prisoner had seizures, vomited before dying, witness says

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John Grant in an undated photo. Oklahoma Correctional Service / via REUTERS

Oct. 28 (Reuters) – Sentenced Oklahoma prisoner John Grant had seizures and vomiting before dying from a drug cocktail on Thursday as the state carried out its first execution in years despite questions on his lethal injection protocol, reported a death witness.

Grant, 60, died at 4:21 p.m. (2121 GMT), the state said. It was Oklahoma’s first execution since three botched attempts – including one that was canceled because the wrong drug was supplied – were halted in 2015.

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

But a media witness said Grant had seizures two dozen times and vomited before he died.

“As the drug began to flow, the first drug, midazolam, exhaled deeply,” Sean Murphy said during a news briefing published online. “He started having seizures, about two dozen times, seizures all over his body.”

The vomit covered her face until a prison official erased it, 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 are tried in February to address the state’s lethal injection protocol issue,” Baich said.

Grant had been a plaintiff in a lawsuit due next year challenging the tri-drug protocol as inhuman, but the state refused to postpone his execution to consider the case.

Oklahoma Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After Grant died on Thursday, his attorney, Sarah Jernigan, said he tried to redeem himself and understand his actions “more than any other client I’ve worked with.”

She said he suffered brutality both at home and at the hands of the Oklahoma youth detention system, and did not receive proper mental health treatment prior to the murder. the Gay Carter prison worker in 1998 while incarcerated for another crime.

A last-minute intervention by the United States Supreme Court has overturned the stay of execution of Grant and Julius Jones, who are to be put to death on November 18.

Jones, 41, was on death row for the murder of an insurance executive shot dead in his driveway. He has been claiming his innocence for two decades in a case that has caught the attention of celebrities and anti-death penalty activists.

In ordering the state to delay executions on Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court had unfairly denied the two men the time limits given to many other defendants challenging the protocol lethal injection.

But the Supreme Court canceled this stay on Thursday without commenting further on the case.

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

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

The planned executions run counter to trends in most US states, where the use of the death penalty is on the decline.

Thirty-six US states and the District of Columbia have either abolished the death penalty or have not carried out any executions in the past 10 years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks executions.

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

The local Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church has called for an end to the death penalty and asked parishioners to pray for Grant.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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