Correction: The original story had the wrong image of John Grant, that has been fixed.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – While it has been more than five years since an execution has taken place in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is hoping to resume executions of death row inmates this year.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set execution dates for seven prisoners.
If the execution dates are set, these will be the first executions performed in Oklahoma since 2015.
How did we get here?
In 2014, the State of Oklahoma executed Clayton Lockett for killing 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman in 1999.
The resulting 43-minute procedure featured a never-before-used combination of execution drugs and went awry as Lockett awoke from his unconscious state, and began twitching and convulsing on the table.
“The doctor checked the IV and reported the blood vein had collapsed, and the drugs had either absorbed into tissue, leaked out or both,” according to a previously released timeline.
Lockett died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the execution began.
In 2015, Charles Warner was put to death for the rape and murder of 11-month-old Adrianna Walker in 1997.
Before the three-drug cocktail was administered, Warner was heard saying, “It feels like acid,” and “My body is on fire.”
An autopsy report says that officials used potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride to kill Warner.
Minutes before Richard Glossip was set to be executed, then-Gov. Mary Fallin issued a stay of execution after officials realized there was a mix-up regarding the drugs set to be used in his lethal injection.
Following the botched executions, executions in Oklahoma were put on hold.
An investigation revealed a series of flaws, missteps, and mistakes that critics said needed to be fixed before any executions could resume.
In 2020, Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow said new protocols are in place, saying staff are ready for executions to return.
“Those drugs are actually verified at each step of the process from the point in time that they are received from where we’re receiving them from, to every person that handles those, it’s validated to the point that the drugs are actually loaded into the syringes,” Crow said.
Julius Jones prepares for commutation hearing
One of the death row inmates featured in the court filing is Julius Jones, whose case has gained national attention and sparked calls of his innocence.
In July of 1999, Edmond businessman Paul Howell was shot and killed in the driveway of his parents’ Edmond home.
At the time, 19-year-old Julius Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.
His supporters said his original defense team failed him, never even bringing up his alibi for the night of the murder.
However, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said those defending Jones have “disseminated misinformation and lies regarding the trial and evidence” in the case.
In recent months, Jones’ case has gained national attention with many people calling on state leaders to intervene.
Jones is scheduled to have a commutation hearing on Sept. 13.
However, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office has requested that Jones’ execution be set for Oct. 28.
Rev. Cece Jones-Davis, who has spearheaded the effort to commute Jones’ sentence, says the request by the AG will undermine the public’s faith in the justice system if it derails his commutation hearing.
“Julius Jones has a commutation hearing scheduled for September 13 to present the case for his innocence,” said Jones-Davis. “It is shocking– and, quite frankly, outrageous – that the promise of a fair hearing, which former AG Mike Hunter agreed Mr. Jones has a right to, might now be short-circuited because of this rush to resume executions. We are urging the Pardon and Parole Board and all those in power to stay the course and give this man an opportunity to finally tell his story on September 13. Nothing should be done by our public officials to further undermine confidence in our system.”
Six other inmates listed for execution
The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office also requested execution dates be set for six other inmates.
James Allen Coddington was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Albert Hale. The AG’s office is requesting that Coddington’s execution date be set for Feb. 10, 2022.
Donald Anthony Grant was convicted in the murders of Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith. The AG’s office is asking that Grant’s execution date be Dec. 30, 2021.
John Marion Grant was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Gay Carter. Grant’s execution was initially scheduled for Dec. 4, 2014, but was stayed following a review of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol.
In Grant’s case, court documents state that in order to follow Oklahoma Department of Corrections policy, the inmate will have to complete a notification packet that needs to be completed 35 days before the execution. Since the AG’s office has requested that Grant be executed on Oct. 7, 2021, they are asking the court to rule on his motion quickly so that policy can be followed.
Wade Greenly Lay was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Kenneth Anderson. The attorney general’s office has asked the court to schedule Lay’s execution for Dec. 9, 2021.
Gilbert Ray Postelle was convicted and sentenced for the murders of Amy Wright and James Alderson. The attorney general’s office has asked the court to schedule Postelle’s execution for Jan. 20, 2022.
Bigler Jobe Stouffer was convicted and sentenced for the murder of Linda Reaves. The state is asking the court to schedule Stouffer’s execution for Nov. 18, 2021.
“The seven inmates to be scheduled for execution were convicted of heinous crimes. They either didn’t challenge the protocol or offer an alternative method of execution. These inmates’ appeals have lasted between 13 and 36 years in the courts. In 2016, two-thirds of Oklahomans voted to insert capital punishment into the constitution. My job as the state’s chief law enforcement officer is to enforce the laws of the state of Oklahoma.
Our thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of the victims of all death row inmates. They have endured the lengthy appeals process, while waiting decades for justice for horrific crimes their loved ones suffered. Further delay will only perpetuate that injustice.”Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor
Critics argue that the state will use the same drugs that were used during the botched lethal injections years ago.
“Oklahoma has a checkered history when it comes to carrying out executions. The drug protocol that was problematic seven years ago is the same one the state seeks to use again. Given that history and the unresolved questions about the constitutionality of the State’s execution protocol that are pending before the federal district court, Oklahoma should not move forward with any executions at this time. To allow executions to proceed when there is a chance the court could find a constitutionally unacceptable risk that a person could suffer because of the drug combination used, is just plain wrong,” said Dale Baich, an attorney for the prisoners.