Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced this morning that the state had completed the execution of Donald Grant, a man with a history of mental illness who admitted to committing a 2001 double murder in Del City. Grant becomes the third man Oklahoma has put to death since resuming executions late last year.
Time of death for Grant was declared at 10:16 a.m., according to Jessica Bruno of KFOR who was at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Sean Murphy of the Associated Press witnessed the execution and chronicled Grant’s final minutes of life.
Grant was convicted of murdering Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith during a 2001 robbery at a La Quinta Inn in Del City. McElyea and Smith were both employees of the hotel. They were shot, beaten and slashed with a knife.
In late November, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 to oppose Grant’s clemency application. Board member Kelly Doyle, who voted to deny Grant’s application, called the murders for which he was convicted “unusually heinous and cruel.”
“There’s a pattern in death penalty cases that we have seen since we began a couple months ago: severe mental illness, drug abuse, deprived and at times horrific childhood. I believe we will continue to see that,” Doyle said. “The people of Oklahoma have made a choice to maintain the death penalty. I also feel that it is my responsibility to identify those cases that are unusually heinous and cruel. And to me, this is one of those cases.”
During the Nov. 30 hearing, Grant spoke to the Pardon and Parole Board for 20 minutes, at times stumbling heavily through his statements — admitting to the crime and asking for mercy.
“The crime that got me here, yes, I am guilty by charge. I don’t disclaim that,” Grant said.
Public Radio Tulsa reported that Grant’s mother, Mary Robinson, drank while she was pregnant with him. In 1989, he was removed from his mother’s custody by the state of New York for neglect.
During the Nov. 30 hearing, Grant said he had to hide money from his mother because she became addicted to crack cocaine.
“I never had guidance. I never had the right people in my life,” Grant said. “I put my money in my socks and hid it from my mom because she smoked crack and she takes the money.”
Gilbert Postelle execution set for Feb. 17
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor released a statement Thursday morning regarding Grant’s execution.
“The State’s execution of Donald Grant was carried out with zero complications at 10:16 this morning,” O’Connor said. “Justice is now served for Brenda McElyea, Felecia Suzette Smith, and the people of Oklahoma.”
Grant’s final hope to avoid execution came down to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied a request to block his execution and that of Gilbert Postelle, who is scheduled to die Feb. 17
The state executed John Marion Grant and Bigler Stouffer in late 2021 after resuming the practice of carrying out the death penalty. Oklahoma halted executions in 2015 after a pair of botched efforts that made national headlines and heightened efforts to abolish the death penalty here.
(Update: This article was updated at 11:55 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 27, to include a statement from Attorney General John O’Connor. It was updated again at 12:27 p.m. to include a link to Sean Murphy’s story as a witness to the Donald Grant execution from the Associated Press.)