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Oklahoma executes man convicted of double murder

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Oklahoma executed death row prisoner Donald Grant on Thursday, one day after the Supreme Court denied a stay over questions about the state's lethal injection protocol.

"The state's execution of Donald Grant was carried out with zero complications at 10:16 this morning," Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor said. "Justice is now served for Brenda McElyea, Suzette Smith and the people of Oklahoma."

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Grant was sentenced to death for the 2001 murders of the two women, who were Del City motel workers.

"The families of Brenda and Suzette have waited more than 20 years for justice," O'Connor said prior to the execution. "Although nothing can erase the pain and anguish of losing a loved one, our office prays that both families may now find some peace."

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Grant had sought a stay of execution from the Supreme Court on Wednesday, but the high court denied his and another death row prisoner's -- Gilbert Postelle -- request. Their lawyers challenged the state's use of midazolam in its three-drug lethal injection cocktail, calling it inappropriate.

A lower court judge refused to block the state's planned executions Jan. 14, saying the two men were unlikely to be able to prove that the use of the drug would cause any more pain than that caused by the insertion of the IV.

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Oklahoma and several other states use midazolam in their execution protocols as a sedative. The state then administers vecuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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Grant and Postelle were among several Oklahoma death row prisoners who sued the state over its lethal injection protocol after earlier botched executions.

The state announced Feb. 13, 2020, that it planned to resume executions nearly six years after the use of an incorrect drug led to the botched execution of a convicted murderer.

Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol came under scrutiny in 2014 when Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack amid complications during his execution.

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Autopsy reports released a year later indicated Oklahoma corrections officials used the wrong drug -- potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride -- during the process. Lockett complained of a burning sensation and attempted to raise his head and speak after doctors declared he was unconscious.

The same incorrect drug was delivered to corrections officials for use in the planned 2015 execution of Richard Glossip. Former Gov. Mary Ballin called off Glossip's execution with a last-minute, indefinite stay after she learned of the discrepancy.

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Oklahoma carried out two executions in 2021 after resuming the punishment, that of John Grant on Oct. 28 and Bigler Stouffer on Dec. 8.

Postelle was sentenced to death for the 2008 murders of James Alderson and Amy Wright at a Del City mobile home park. He received a lesser sentence for killing Donnie Swindle and Terry Smith. He's set to be executed Feb. 17.

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