Okla. board rejects clemency for convicted killer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma inmate scheduled to be executed in February for stabbing a prison worker to death in 1998 lost his bid for clemency Friday from a state board.
The Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously not to recommend sparing the life of 53-year-old John Marion Grant. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for killing cafeteria worker Gay Carter.
Grant’s attorneys did not dispute that he dragged Carter into a mop closet and stabbed her 16 times with a pick-like shank at the Dick Connor Correctional Center in Hominy, but said the two had a romantic relationship and that the killing was more the result of a domestic dispute.
“This crime happened due to a scorned, broken heart,” said Thomas Hird, Grant’s federal public defender. “It takes it more into another realm ... more of a domestic-dispute murder.”
Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Dixon denied there was any credible evidence of a relationship between Grant and the 58-year-old Carter. The victim’s daughter, Pam Carter, told the board it was a “heinous allegation.”
“I lost my mother, and now I feel victimized all over again,” said Pam Carter, who worked at the prison as well and was there the day her mother was killed.
Dixon also said Grant has been violent in prison, citing reports of assaults on other inmates and threats against staff since he’s been on death row.
A psychiatrist who testified on Grant’s behalf, Dr. Donna Schwartz-Watts, acknowledged that she would not recommend that he be housed with other inmates, even if the board were to recommend his sentence be commuted to life without parole.
Grant turned down an opportunity to testify to the board via teleconference from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Attorney Sarah Jernigan said Grant accepted full responsibility for his actions and offered an apology to the victims’ families.
She said Grant was incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities in Oklahoma beginning at age 11 when there were widespread abuses in the juvenile system, and Schwartz-Watts said he suffered from reactive attachment disorder as a result of a traumatic childhood.
Grant is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 19.
He is one of 21 death row inmates who sued the state following the problematic execution in April of Clayton Lockett. The inmates argue that by tinkering with the lethal injection process, the state is experimenting on death row inmates and violating the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
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