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Oklahoma Carries Out Third Botched Execution In A Row After 6-Year Pause

Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma carried out its third straight botched execution Thursday (October 28) after a six-year hiatus on state-sponsored executions.

John Marion Grant, 60, was injected with a combination of three lethal drugs that caused him to vomit and convulse during his execution. The same combination had led to issues in two other executions years prior.

The drugs were used In the 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett whose killing took 43 minutes, and again in 2015 on Charles Warner who reportedly cried out that his body was on “fire.” An autopsy later confirmed that Warner was indeed killed with the wrong combination of lethal drugs.

A Legal Challenge to Oklahoma’s Executions


At the time of Warner’s execution, then-governor Mary Fallin called off the execution of Richard Glossip that same year after the state department of corrections had the wrong combination of drugs. Now, attorneys are working to once again put a pause on executions in the state.

“Based on the reporting of the eyewitnesses to the execution, for the third time in a row, Oklahoma’s execution protocol did not work as it was designed to,” Dale Balch, an attorney representing a group of people currently on death row who are challenging Oklahoma’s execution process, said in a statement.

“This is why the Tenth Circuit [Court of Appeals] stayed John Grant’s execution and this is why the Supreme Court should not have lifted the stay. There should be no more executions in Oklahoma until we go to trial in February to address the state’s lethal injection protocol.”

Back in August, Grant was one of six plaintiffs in Balch’s legal challenge who US District Judge Stephen Friot dismissed off of a legal technicality. Friot suggested at the time that Grant’s execution and the others could be used “as evidence” to prove the state’s execution protocols were problematic.

A “Human Experiment”

Grant “became a human experiment for the other death-row prisoners’ challenge to Oklahoma execution process,” Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said Thursday (October 28).

“Oklahoma had botched its last three execution attempts before its six-year execution pause, but apparently learned nothing from that experience. But to say this is another botched Oklahoma execution would be inadequate. Oklahoma knew full well that this was well within the realm of possible outcomes in a midazolam execution. It didn’t care … and the Supreme Court apparently didn’t either.”

Midazolam is one of the drugs used in lethal injections.

John Grant was on death row for the 1998 killing of a prison worker. He was incarcerated at the time for a robbery. His attorneys said he was routinely failed by the state beginning with his arrest at 17 where he was imprisoned in an adult facility.

“When John stole to feed and clothe himself and his siblings, Oklahoma labeled him a delinquent instead of a desperate and traumatized child left to fend for himself. John wasn’t even a teenager yet when Oklahoma sent him to the first several state-run youth detention facilities” where the abuse he experienced was so painful he couldn’t speak about it, Grant’s lawyer, Sarah Jernigan, said in a statement.

“Oklahoma ultimately dumped John on the street with no skills and no support for the mental illness that was exacerbated by years of both victim of and witness to beatings, rapes, and extended period of solitary confinement,” Jernigan added.

Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264

The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001

For more mental health resources, click HERE.

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