Oklahoma group seeks to spare life of death row inmate Donald Anthony Grant, describing him as ‘mentally ill’

Oklahoma City — The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) is pleading for mercy for death-row inmate, Donald Anthony Grant, who is brain-damaged and suffers from schizophrenia.

His clemency hearing before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board was being held Tuesday morning (November 30) at the Kate Barnard Community Corrections Center, 3300 N Martin Luther King Avenue in Oklahoma City (73111).

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) has scheduled Grant’s execution for January 27, 2022. Grant, 46, has been on death row for two decades for the 2001 killing of Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith at a LaQuinta Inn in Del City.

According to his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Emma Rolls, Mr. Grant suffers from schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses; it took five years for Oklahoma to medicate him sufficiently to restore his competency to stand trial. Grant is currently being treated for his mental illness in prison.

According to a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK.com and other news organizations, “The clemency packet filed by Rolls on behalf of Grant states that his mother drank alcohol throughout her pregnancy, causing Grant to suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. His mentally ill and alcoholic father disciplined him as a young child by slamming his head against a pole or against his younger brother’s head. He grew up in an apartment where the adults took crack cocaine. Grant still carries a slug from a bullet that randomly struck him when he was 12.”Grant’s family was often homeless. When the Welfare Department removed him and his brother from his mother’s custody, they raised themselves on the mean streets of Brooklyn. He found it difficult to control his impulsive and explosive behavior. The jury was never made aware of his mental illness.”

Rev. Don Health, chairman of OK-CADP, said in a statement, “Mr. Grant should be confined to a mental institution, not prison. Does killing Mr. Grant in our name protect society? Or does it perpetuate a culture of violence by inflicting state violence upon a brain-damaged person who suffered from abuse and neglect in his childhood?”

Grant would be the second person executed in Oklahoma since executions were resumed following a six-year moratorium. John Marion Grant was executed by lethal injection on October 28.(https://www.capitolbeatok.com/reports/oklahoma-coalition-against-the-death-penalty-ok-cadp-and-anti-execution-attorney-comment-on-the-death-of-john-marion-grant/)

Sean Murphy of the Associated Press has covered Oklahoma’s death penalty process in recent decades (https://www.city-sentinel.com/criminal_justice/oklahoma-parole-board-rejects-clemency-for-death-row-inmate/article_14f6d874-776e-5428-9351-b968684a9c27.html ). He reported after the execution of John Marion Grant that the man suffered two dozen full-body convulsions and had to have vomit wiped from his mouth twice before he was pronounced dead.

The Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals has issued death warrants setting additional execution dates for Bigler Stouffer (December 9), Wade Lay (January 6, 2022), Gilbert Postelle (February 17), and James Coddington (March 10).