A federal judge in Oklahoma said Monday that he aims make a decision by the end of this week on a petition filed by two Oklahoma death row inmates requesting their executions be by firing squad rather than lethal injection.
Lori Gray, courtroom deputy for US District Judge Stephen Friot, confirmed to CNN that at a hearing Judge Friot told the parties that he would work to have a ruling by the end of this week.
The petition was filed by two inmates, Donald Grant and Gilbert Postelle: Grant is scheduled to be executed on January 27 and Postelle on February 17.
In their initial petition to the court, lawyers for the inmates had sought an injunction to stop Oklahoma from using lethal injection. Attorneys for the inmates are asking for the executions to be delayed pending a late February trial on the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesperson Josh Ward declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation.
Ward did confirm that the state has never carried out an execution by firing squad, but did say the department was prepared to carry out the orders of the court.
Oklahoma resumed executions by lethal injection in October 2021 after pausing them for over five years after the botched execution of an inmate in 2014. During the October 2021 execution, witnesses reported the inmate — John Grant — convulsing and vomiting.
Lawyers for Donald Grant and Postelle cited the October 2021 execution in their petition, arguing that it was botched and if their clients are put to death by lethal injection, it is putting them at risk of substantial and serious harm.
Now, the lawyers are petitioning the court to allow the inmates to choose to be executed by firing squad.
Testimony submitted by the plaintiffs in court filings from a “board-certified anesthesiologist and a board certified pain medicine specialist” alleges that firing squad — not Oklahoma’s process of lethal injection — is appropriate because, “firing squad will reliably cause a death that will be quick and virtually painless.”
They also argue that by executing the inmates by firing squad the, “risk of a ‘botched’ execution is substantially reduced as compared with the more complicated method of lethal injection.”
CNN contacted lawyers for Grant and Postelle for comment, but did not receive a response.
On November 30, 2021, Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 against recommending clemency for Donald Grant. CNN affiliate KOCO reports that during that hearing, Grant’s lawyers argued that although their client admitted to a 2001 double murder, he shouldn’t be executed because he, “is severely mentally ill.”
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board meeting also voted 4-1 against recommending clemency for Gilbert Postelle in a December 1, 2021, hearing. KOCO reports that Postelle was found guilty of murdering four persons he believed were behind a motorcycle accident left his father injured.
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