(Trends Wide) — An Oklahoma federal judge said Monday that he expects to make a decision later this week on a petition filed by two Oklahoma death row inmates asking that their executions be carried out by firing squad instead of lethal injection.
Lori Gray, deputy for US District Judge Stephen Friot, confirmed to Trends Wide that Judge Friot told the parties at a hearing that he would work toward a decision later 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 court petition, the inmates’ attorneys had sought an injunction to prevent Oklahoma from using lethal injection. Lawyers for the inmates are calling for the executions to be delayed until a trial in late February on the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Josh Ward declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.
Ward did confirm that the state has never carried out an execution by firing squad, but said the department was prepared to carry out the court’s orders.
Oklahoma resumed executions by lethal injection in October 2021 after suspending them for more than five years following the botched execution of an inmate in 2014. During the October 2021 execution, witnesses reported 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 that if their clients are sentenced to death by lethal injection, they risk substantial and serious harm.
Lawyers are now asking the court to allow inmates to choose to be executed by firing squad.
Testimony presented by the plaintiffs in court files from a “board-certified anesthesiologist and a board-certified pain medicine specialist” argues that firing squad, not the Oklahoma lethal injection process, is appropriate because “firing will reliably cause a death it will be quick and virtually painless.
They also argue that by executing inmates by firing squad the “risk of a ‘botched’ execution is substantially reduced compared to the more complicated method of lethal injection”.
Trends Wide reached out to attorneys for Grant and Postelle for comment, but received no response.
On November 30, 2021, the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 4-1 against recommending clemency for Donald Grant. Trends Wide affiliate KOCO reports that during that hearing, Grant’s lawyers argued that although their client admitted to a double murder in 2001, he should not be executed because “he is seriously mentally ill.”
The Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles meeting also voted 4-1 against recommending clemency for Gilbert Postelle at a hearing on December 1, 2021. KOCO reports that Postelle was found guilty of murdering four people he believed they had been responsible for a motorcycle accident that left his father injured.