OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Thursday afternoon, Oklahoma death row inmate John Marion Grant was executed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution for Grant that was issued by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday. This was the first execution in Oklahoma since executions were put on hold back in 2015.
“I’ve never seen an inmate vomit. I’ve witnessed 14 executions and I’ve never witnessed that before,” Sean Murphy with the Associate Press said.
Murphy was one of five media witnesses at Grant’s execution on Thursday. It was the first execution in Oklahoma since 2015 when executions were put on hold following several botched executions.
“Tonight’s execution was notable in that the inmate, Mr. Grant, once the midazolam started flowing, he did convulse more than two dozen times, and those were pretty violent convulsions while he was strapped to the gurney,” Murphy said.
After Grant started convulsing, Murphy said that’s when the vomiting started. He said it rolled down Grant’s neck and ODOC staff members had to wipe his face twice before the execution protocol continued.
”The vomiting was unusual, something I hadn’t seen before, and so, you know, that seemed to be a problem, especially because at that point, he’s still trying to breathe and his face is covered with vomit,” said Muprhy. “There was clearly a problem with him not being able to breathe.”
Justin Wolf, Communications Director for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, sent a comment to KFOR on Thursday night, saying no issues arose during Grant’s execution.
“Inmate Grant’s execution was carried out in accordance with Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ protocols and without complication,” Wolf said.
Grant was executed for the 1998 murder of Gay Carter, who was the kitchen supervisor at the Dick Conner Correctional Center, where Grant was incarcerated for robbery convictions. He stabbed her with a shank 16 times.
Pam Carter, Gay Carter’s daughter, issued the following statement after Grant was executed:
“At least now we are starting to get justice for our loved ones. The death penalty is about protecting any potential future victims. Even after Grant was removed from society, he committed an act of violence that took an innocent life. I pray that justice prevails for the other victims’ loved ones. My heart and prayers go out to you all. Stay strong.”PAM CARTER
The execution took place just two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a stay of executions for both Grant and high-profile death row inmate Julius Jones that was issued by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
“This is the fourth execution that I’ve witnessed in which midazolam, a sedative, was the first drug,” Murphy said.
The first execution that Murphy witnessed in which midazolam was used as the first drug in the three-drug cocktail, was the execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014.
“Which was a well-documented problematic execution,” he said.
Witnesses watched for about 40 minutes while Lockett was convulsing, appearing to be in pain, according to their testimony.
The execution was called off and the media heard a short time later that Lockett had died of a heart attack.
Lockett’s execution is part of the reason why the state’s execution protocol, that three-drug cocktail, will be challenged in court during an upcoming federal trial in February.
The attorneys for around 30 death row inmates are calling it unconstitutional.
“The 10th Circuit stayed Mr. Grant’s execution so that issues about midazolam could be resolved at trial in February, and that’s why the U.S. Supreme Court should not have lifted the stay,” Dale Baich, a federal public defender for Grant, said. “Mr. Grant had a legal claim before the court and he was executed before the court could hear that and consider the evidence.”
Julius Jones was also a part of the stay of executions issued by the 10th Circuit on Wednesday that was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.
Jones is scheduled to be executed on November 18, depending on what happens following his clemency hearing on Monday, November 1.