Oklahoma is set to execute Donald Anthony Grant on Thursday for killing two hotel workers during a robbery.
Grant, 46, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester at 10 a.m. CST.
He will be the first inmate put to death in the U.S. this year, and the third executed in Oklahoma since the state resumed capital punishment after a six-year pause in October last year.
Grant’s attorneys had asked a federal judge to temporarily halt his execution, saying it would expose him to an unconstitutional risk of severe pain. They also requested he be reinstated as a plaintiff in a separate lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. A trial in that challenge will start in February.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot and a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver denied that request. The U.S. Supreme Court also denied Grant’s request for a stay on Wednesday.
Grant, who is Black, was sentenced to death for the murder of two employees at a LaQuinta Inn in Del City during a robbery in 2001.
According to The Oklahoman, Grant confessed to committing the robbery to bail his girlfriend out of jail.
He also admitted to killing manager Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith, a front desk clerk, so that there would be no witnesses to his robbery.
According to court documents, Grant shot both woman, and Smith was also bludgeoned and stabbed repeatedly.
Grant expressed “deep, sincere remorse” and apologized for the killings during a clemency hearing in November.
The state’s Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 against recommending clemency.
Grant’s attorneys argued that he had severe mental health issues that stemmed from pre-natal alcohol exposure and a lack of oxygen during complications at birth.
He also had a traumatic childhood growing up in a New York City housing project with a mother who was addicted to crack cocaine and suffered brain damage after being beaten by an alcoholic and abusive father, they said.
The attorneys argued the jury that sentenced Grant to death had received limited evidence of his mental illness and didn’t hear from experts about the impact that had on his behavior.
The parole board also heard from members of McElyea’s family, who urged them to deny Grant’s request for clemency.
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