Supreme Court OK's Oklahoma Execution Hours Before Lethal Injection

The U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution for 60-year-old John Marion Grant on Thursday, giving Oklahoma the green light to move forward with his lethal injection scheduled to take place today, the Associated Press reported.

A lower court ruled Wednesday to give Grant the temporary hold on his execution, but the Oklahoma attorney general's office quickly appealed to the high court to remove the stay. The Supreme Court voted 5-3 Thursday afternoon to approve the state's request and allow the execution to take place at 5 p.m. ET, AP reported.

In the appeal, the state cited the "burdensome emotional labor and trauma for the victims' families," saying that they "invested much effort in preparing for the executions." Grant, 60, was convicted in 1998 and given the death sentence for fatally stabbing prison cafeteria worker Gay Carter.

The execution will be Oklahoma's first in more than six years. The Supreme Court also removed a stay of execution granted for Julius Jones, who is scheduled for lethal injection November 15, according to AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Oklahoma Executions
The U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution for 60-year-old John Marion Grant on Thursday, giving Oklahoma the green light to move forward with his lethal injection scheduled to take place today. This undated photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Grant. Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP

Grant was serving a 130-year prison sentence for several armed robberies at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy when witnesses say he dragged Carter, 58, into a mop closet and stabbed her 16 times with a homemade shank. He was sentenced to die in 1999.

The state's Pardon and Parole Board twice denied Grant's request for clemency, including a 3-2 vote this month to reject a recommendation that his life be spared.

Oklahoma has historically had one of the nation's busiest death chambers, but a series of problematic lethal injections in 2014 and 2015 led to a de facto moratorium. Richard Glossip was just hours away from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong lethal drug. It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used to execute an inmate in January 2015.

The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state's prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.

While the moratorium was in place, Oklahoma moved ahead with plans to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates, but ultimately scrapped that idea and announced last year that it planned to resume executions using the same three-drug lethal injection protocol that was used during the flawed executions. The three drugs are: midazolam, a sedative, vecuronium bromide, a paralytic, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Oklahoma prison officials recently announced that they have confirmed a source to supply all the drugs needed for seven executions that are scheduled to take place through March.

"Extensive validations and redundancies have been implemented since the last execution in order to ensure that the process works as intended," the Department of Corrections said in a statement.

More than two dozen Oklahoma death row inmates are part of a federal lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection protocols, arguing that the three-drug method risks causing unconstitutional pain and suffering. A trial is set for early next year.

Grant and five other death row inmates were dismissed from the lawsuit after none of them selected an alternate method of execution, which a federal judge said was necessary. But a three-member panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the inmates did identify alternative methods of execution, even if they didn't specifically check a box designating which technique they would use. The panel had granted stays of execution on Wednesday for Grant and Jones, whose lethal injection is set for Nov. 18.

Grant and his attorneys have not denied that he killed Carter, but argued that key facts about the crime and Grant's troubled childhood were never presented to the jury. They maintain that Grant developed deep feelings for Carter and was upset when she fired him after he got in a fight with another kitchen worker.

"Jurors never heard that Mr. Grant killed Ms. Gay Carter while in the heat of passion and despair over the abrupt end of the deepest and most important adult relationship of his life," his attorneys wrote in his clemency application.

Carter's daughter, Pam Carter, who also worked at the prison and was there the day her mother was killed, rejected the idea that her mother and Grant had anything more than a professional relationship and urged state officials to move forward with the execution.

"I understand he's trying to save his life, but you keep victimizing my mother with these stupid allegations," she told the Pardon and Parole Board this month. "My mother was vivacious. She was friendly. She didn't meet a stranger. She treated her workers just as you would on a job on the outside. For someone to take advantage of that is just heinous."

Update 10/28/2021, 4:30 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include the U.S. Supreme Court lifting the stay of execution.

Oklahoma Supreme Court
Oklahoma asked the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court's ruling and allow it to move forward with an execution scheduled for 5 p.m. ET today. The U.S. Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington, D.C. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo