Federal Court denies Oklahoma death row inmates’ appeal to stay their executions.
A federal appeals court rejected a motion by four Oklahoma death row inmates to stay their execution pending a ruling in a court case challenging the legality of the state’s controversial three-drug lethal injection cocktail.
The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on Friday denied a request for a preliminary injunction to stay the executions of plaintiffs Julius Jones, Wade Lay, Donald Grant, Gilbert Postelle, and other inmates whose executions are scheduled for the next three months.
“We are in the process of finding out what’s next.” Jen Moreno lawyer for the four inmates told The Associated Press, calling the ruling “inexplicable.”
“Our team is spending this weekend reviewing the ruling.”
In their lawsuit, the inmates argued that the use of the execution cocktail, which consists of a sedative called midazolam, vecuronium bromide, a paralytic, and potassium chloride, which is administered after vecuronium bromide to stop the heart, could cause severe pain.
The appeals court called the sentence of execution of the four inmates “constitutional” and upheld the federal judge’s decision rejecting the inmates’ claims, including the argument that requiring them to choose an alternative method of execution would violate their religious beliefs against suicide.
The lawsuit came after Oklahoma imposed the death penalty on 60-year-old John Marion Grant in October for the murder of a prison worker in 1998. On the execution chamber gurney, Grant began to convulse and vomit after officials administered midazolam.
“I never heard or saw that,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center, according to the AP. “That is remarkable and unusual.”
Grant’s execution ended a six-year moratorium on capital punishment in the state for his methods, which inmates said had yet to be resolved in their request to intervene. The moratorium on execution was established by the state’s head of prisons in 2015 after three abnormal executions.
With the end of the moratorium, Oklahoma officials scheduled seven executions in September from October through March 2022.
Among the inmates, Jones’ execution will take place on Thursday, despite a recommendation to Governor Kevin Stitt of the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Jones, who was convicted of the murder of a state businessman in 1999, has maintained his innocence for two decades and several board members have expressed uncertainty about the evidence in his case.