A prisoner on death row in the US state of Oklahoma on Thursday was shocked by vomiting and seizures, where executioners used a deadly cocktail suspected of causing horrific pain. John Grant, a 60-year-old African American, was sentenced to death in 2000 for the murder of a prison guard.
After receiving the green light from the United States Supreme Court, prison officials in this conservative southern state injected him with three items and his death was announced at 4:21 pm (9:21 pm GMT).
This protocol had already been used in 2014 and 2015, but the apparent suffering of prisoners led to the state declaring a ban on the death penalty. John Grant “began to ache shortly after injecting the first product,” said Sean Murphy, a U.S. agency AB reporter. According to him, he had seizures and vomited about 20 times before he died. “I have witnessed 14 executions in person, which I have never seen before,” the journalist added.
A “humane and efficient” protocol, the authorities promise
His experiment immediately aroused harsh criticism. “Oklahoma has ruined its last three execution attempts before its six-year hiatus, but has not learned any lessons from this experience,” Robert Dunham, head of the Information Center, told AFP (DPIC). “For the third time in a row, the Oklahoma execution protocol is not working properly,” said Dale Pich, a lawyer for several offenders, including John Grant. “There should be no executions in Oklahoma until the trial begins in February,” he added.
A few days ago, the Oklahoma Prison Services assessed in a statement that their protocol was “humane and effective” and that executions could be resumed. Dale Boyce underlined that there are “serious questions” about compliance with the US Constitution, which prohibits the pain caused by this deadly cocktail and “cruel and unusual punishments.” The appellate court on Wednesday ruled in his favor and suspended the execution. But officials in Oklahoma immediately seized the U.S. Supreme Court and demanded that the decision be reversed.
Without explaining its reasons, the Supreme Court finally gave the green light to the execution of extremists. Its three progressive judges, however, made it clear that they did not agree with the Conservative majority.
“My body is burning”
The competing protocol combines an anesthetic, midazolam and an anesthetic, which is believed to prevent dangerous levels of potassium chloride pain before injection. It was used to hang Clayton Locket in 2014, but the offender suffered 43 minutes of apparent pain.
In 2015, another convict, Charles Warner, complained that his body had been “burned” before he died, and that executioners had used an incompatible product. The same error was recreated almost in September 2015 and a last-minute execution was postponed.
Following these failures, a large panel of arbitrators began an investigation and the authorities agreed to suspend the death sentence application. In 2020, they finalized a new protocol and set several implementation dates starting in 2021 at John Grant.
In 1998, he killed with a screwdriver a woman working in a prison restaurant who was serving a sentence for armed robbery. Oklahoma plans to hang Julius Jones, a 41-year-old African-American who was sentenced to death in 2002, on November 18 for the murder of a white businessman he has always denied.
His case was the subject of a documentary series, supported by a podcast and several associations and figures such as Kim Kardashian, who firmly believed he was innocent. He lost all legal settlements, but the Oklahoma Amnesty Office recommended that his sentence be commuted to life imprisonment. The governor has not yet decided.
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