Donald Anthony Grant, widely known as Donald Grant, was an American criminal convicted of double murder in 2001 in Del City. On January 27, 2022, Grant was executed by the State of Oklahoma by lethal injection (despite a lawsuit against the method in America). He is the first person in America to be executed in 2022. Grant is also the third person in Oklahoma who has been put to death by lethal injection since being revived in Oklahoma in 2021 (after approximately 7 years of prohibition).
Donald Grant was born in 1976 (age 46; at the time of death) At New York. In the 1980s, during the crack epidemic, Grant was raised in a housing project in New York. His family members suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, and Grant was beaten a lot by his father (who was an alcoholic) as a child.
He led a tragic life. According to one of his relatives,
The fridge was locked when he (Donald Grant) was 8 and the grandmother only fed the girls and the boys had to go to the streets to steal food.
Height (approx): 5′ 8″
Hair color: Bald
Eye colour: Noir
There is not much information available about his family. Grant’s father was an alcoholic.
In 2001, Grant was dating a girl imprisoned in America. He robbed a hotel in 2001 in Del City to collect bail from his girlfriend.
What did Donald Grant do?
25-year-old Donald Grant robbed the La Quinta Inn in Del City in July 2001. He allegedly robbed the hotel to collect bail from his girlfriend, who was imprisoned in America. During the robbery, in order to leave no witnesses to his robbery, Grant killed two of the hotel employees named Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith. Brenda McElyea was 29 and Felicia Suzette Smith was 43 at the time.
After committing the theft, he returned home and wrote a confession letter. The letter read,
So I’m sitting in the house cleaning my gun with a purpose in mind for whoever is there.
Appeal for clemency by Grant
Grant was sentenced to death after being convicted in the case in 2005. Following the verdict, Donald Grant filed several appeals to the United States Supreme Court to overturn his conviction in the Brenda McElyea murder case and Felicia Suzette Smith. His lawyers Susan Otto and Emma Rolls appealed in court that their client (Donald Grant) had been the victim of violent childhood abuse by his alcoholic father. As a result, he suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and mental illness. They asked the court to show kindness to Donald Grant. They asked the court to delay his execution giving an example of the execution of another inmate John Grant in October 2021. Apparently John Grant suffered from seizures and vomited several times after being injected with the first drug, the sedative midazolam. On the other hand, the family members of the victims were crying out for justice. They urged the court to reject his clemency petition. One of McElyea’s sisters recalled the pain she felt when she had to tell her father about McElyea’s murder. She said,
I had to call my dad and tell him his daughter, his granddaughter, was dead. I had never seen him cry, but that night I heard him cry and it broke my heart.
Clemency hearing in November 2021
In November 2021, during a hearing for his clemency appeal before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, confessed to killing Felicia Suzette Smith and Brenda McElyea during the robbery in Del City as he did not want to leave any witnesses to his robbery. Expressing deep, sincere remorse, Donald Grant said he was guilty of committing double murders and blamed the devil for the 2001 murders in front of the council. He said,
First and foremost…I would like to express my…deepest regret and sincere remorse for my actions. I know words can’t bring them back. I understand. … I can’t change that. You know, I wish I could do that and everything.
However, the council learned that Donald had brutally killed the two hotel employees. He shot and killed INN director Brenda McElyea as she begged for her life and shot receptionist Suzette Smith three times in the face. Despite the gunshots, when Smith survived, Grant slit her throat and beat her over the head with a computer screen, VCR, and his gun. The vote to deny his request for clemency was 4 to 1 at the Oklahoma Clemency and Parole Board and he was denied clemency. The council scheduled his execution on January 27, 2022, by the method of lethal injections.
Search for emergency stay
Grant asked the federal judge to allow him a temporary executive order (to delay his execution) until a trial could be held on the three-drug lethal injection method in Oklahoma. He had asked the Supreme Court of the United States to offer him the method of firing squad for his execution, claiming that the method would be less painful and quicker. He and a few other Oklahoma death row inmates had previously challenged the use of the sedative drug midazolam for their executions. In their lawsuit, they claimed the drug was very harmful to the human body, giving examples of the problems it created in several past executions. They feared the risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering. On January 26, 2022, his final appeal for an emergency stay was denied by the United States Supreme Court, saying the court could offer no mercy for his crime.
Protest OK CADP
On January 27, 2022, just hours before Grant’s execution, the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK CADP) demonstrated outside the Governor’s mansion to stop Donald’s execution.
The execution of Donald Grant
On January 27, 2022, approximately 18 witnesses were present at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for the execution of Donald Grant. Witnesses included a few reporters, prosecutors, a police chief, family members of his victims and those close to Grant. Prior to his execution, Grant was asked to give a final two-minute speech. He started off by saying, “Yo, my God, I got it. I’m strong, son. No drugs, nothing. I am solid.
He added, “I’ll go out into the universe and then I’ll come back. God is here. The real god.
Grant then began to sing unintelligible. Grant then proceeded to talk about the seven witnesses who witnessed the execution on his behalf. Soon he was told that his two minutes of speaking were up. However, he did not stop and continued to talk about his relatives. Afterwards, a prison staff member in the execution chamber cut off the microphone but Grant continued to speak even after the microphones were turned off. He kept looking at his family members sitting in the front row of the witness room, and tears started streaming down his face. Grant received the first lethal injection medication at 10:03 a.m. He fell unconscious around 10:08 a.m. and breathed his last at 10:16 a.m.
Donald Grant’s execution was the 1,541st execution in the United States since the resumption of capital punishment in the United States in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
After Grant’s death, McElyea’s sister, Shirl Pilcher, told reporters she and her family were happy justice was finally being served. She said,
While Donald Grant’s execution doesn’t bring Brenda back, it allows us all to finally move on knowing that justice has been served. Our memories can hopefully be less jaded and clouded by the past. For me, every time I think of her, I always have to ask myself, ‘Is he going to come out? Is anything going to change? And now, today, I know it’s finally over and done.
She further said,
I hope now, when… when I think of her, I can go straight back to that memory, whether it was when I first brought my daughter home from the hospital (Brenda) was there. I hope those types of memories can come to the fore and that I don’t have to go through the past to be able to remember her instead of the memory of her death.
The last meal
The day before his execution, when Donald was asked what he wanted to have in his last meal, he asked for a large, delicious meal. The menu included sesame chicken, six spring rolls, shrimp fried rice and a large apple fritter. In case dessert was not available, he ordered three pints of strawberry ice cream as an alternative.