Oklahoma board denies clemency for man convicted of slayings

Nov 30, 2021, 12:41 PM | Updated: 4:00 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 on Tuesday to reject clemency for a man convicted of killing two Del City hotel workers in 2001, with two members noting the particularly heinous nature of the killings.

The vote paves the way for the state to execute 45-year-old Donald Grant on Jan. 27 unless a court intervenes.

Grant admitted killing Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith, both employees of the LaQuinta Inn in Del City, so that there would be no witnesses to his robbery of the hotel. Both women were shot and stabbed, and court records show Grant also repeatedly bludgeoned McElyea as she begged Grant to spare her life.

“I can’t change that,” Grant said of the crime during a 20-minute address to the board that was occasionally rambling and disjointed. “If I could, I would, but I can’t change that.”

Grant also expressed “deep, sincere remorse” and apologized for the killings.

Grant’s attorneys, both from the federal public defender’s office, argued that he was mentally ill and had suffered brain damage that made him a candidate for mercy. They also discussed Grant’s childhood growing up in a New York City housing project during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, a time when he was frequently beaten and members of his family experienced alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness.

“Executing Donald Grant will stand against the tide of history,” said Federal Public Defender Susan Otto. “Mercy is called for in this case. It recognizes this man, mentally ill and brain damaged, is not a just target of execution.”

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said in a statement after the board’s vote that Grant’s death sentence was “just and appropriate.”

“This conviction and sentence was affirmed after years of thorough review by the appellate courts,” O’Connor said. “I am grateful that the board denied Grant’s request for executive clemency. Our thoughts and prayers are now with the families of Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith.”

The board heard from McElyea’s sister and aunt, who both tearfully urged them to reject clemency for Grant, and from retired Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes, who described the killings of the two women as “one of the most heinous and gruesome homicides I’ve ever dealt with.”

McElyea’s sister, Shirl Filcher, recalled the pain she experienced when she had to tell their father that McElyea had been killed.

“I had to call my dad and tell him his daughter, his baby girl, was dead,” Filcher said. “I had never seen him cry, but that night I heard him weep and it broke my heart.”

Board member Adam Luck, an appointee of Gov. Kevin Stitt who has previously raised concerns about the Department of Corrections’ ability to humanely execute inmates, was the only member who voted to recommend clemency.

Kelly Doyle, also a Stitt appointee, said the heinous nature of Grant’s crime outweighed the mitigating factors raised by his defense.

“For me, the horror of this particular crime goes beyond the pale,” Doyle said.

Larry Morris, an appointee of the Court of Criminal Appeals, said concerns he expressed about the state’s lethal injection method during a board meeting earlier this month have been alleviated by a federal judge who said after a daylong hearing that he was confident Oklahoma’s executions are constitutional.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

UAW says workers at Ohio battery plant vote to join union

DETROIT (AP) — Workers at a General Motors joint venture electric vehicle battery factory in Ohio have voted to join the United Auto Workers union. About 900 workers at the new plant near Warren, Ohio, are the first to decide on union representation at a battery plant. The union says in a statement Friday that […]
6 hours ago
In this screengrab from an interview with ABC News is Sam Bankman-Fried, former CEO of the failed c...
Associated Press

Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried says will testify to Congress

The former CEO of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX said in a tweet Friday that he is willing to testify to Congress next week, but that he will be limited in what he can say and that he “won’t be as helpful” as he’d like to be. The tweet came in response to a tweet […]
6 hours ago
Smoke rises from the OBI mall in Khimki, just outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. A massi...
Associated Press

Fire ravages Moscow shopping mall, killing 1 man

MOSCOW (AP) — One man was killed after a massive fire on Friday ravaged a shopping mall on Moscow’s northwestern outskirts. Authorities said the blaze at the OBI store, part of the MEGA shopping mall in Khimki outside the Russian capital was sparked by welding that apparently violated safety regulations. The huge blaze erupted before […]
6 hours ago
Apples are washed and inspected at the BelleHarvest packing and storage facility, Tuesday, Oct. 4, ...
Associated Press

Fight to curb food waste increasingly turns to science

Hate mealy apples and soggy french fries? Science can help. Restaurants, grocers, farmers and food companies are increasingly turning to chemistry and physics to tackle the problem of food waste. Some are testing spray-on peels or chemically-enhanced sachets that can slow the ripening process in fruit. Others are developing digital sensors that can tell — […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Britain's Treasury Chief Jeremy Hunt leaves 11 Downing Street on Nov. 17, 2022. Britain is e...
Associated Press

UK to ease financial regulations in post-Brexit shakeup

LONDON (AP) — Britain announced plans Friday to ease banking rules brought in after the 2008 global financial crisis in a bid to attract investment and secure London’s status as Europe’s leading finance center. Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt said the changes, which follow Britain’s departure from the European Union in 2020, will make the U.K. […]
6 hours ago
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 2, 2015 file photo, the first twin-engine 158-seater C919 passenger pla...
Associated Press

Chinese airline receives first domestic long-range jetliner

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese airline on Friday became the first customer to take delivery of a long-range jetliner produced by a state-owned manufacturer set up to try to compete with Boeing and Airbus, state TV reported. The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China’s C919 is part of the ruling Communist Party effort’s to transform the […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Oklahoma board denies clemency for man convicted of slayings