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Pardon and Parole board denies John Grant clemency

John Grant's booking photo. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections)
John Grant's booking photo. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections)
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Death row inmate John Grant's clemency hearing took place today with the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

The board denied Grant's clemency with a vote of 3-2.

Larry Morris, a member of the Board, was the last to add his vote.

"I have not heard anything from anyone to suggest that he did not know the difference between right and wrong," Morris said. "And for that reason my vote is no."

The vote means that Grant's clemency request will not move on to Governor Kevin Stitt for further consideration.

Grant sits on death row for stabbing a food service supervisor, Gay Carter, 16 times with a prison-made shank in the Dick Conner Correctional Center.

Jennifer Crabb, the assisting prosecuting attorney, argued why the punishment fits the crime.

"The reason that it makes the murder worse such that it's available for the death penalty is that, the idea is that even though you're being supervised, and in Mr. Grant's case even though you're in a high security prison, we still cannot adequately contain your aggressive behavior," Crabb said.

The defense's argument was that due to Grant's abusive childhood and past, he was more prone to violence and therefore should be pardoned from death.

"John Grant never had a chance. His mother neglected and abandoned him. Beginning when he was just twelve years old, the State of Oklahoma sent him to notoriously vicious juvenile facilities where he experienced unspeakable horrors," Sarah Jernigan, one of Grant's attorneys, said. "And when he eventually committed a tragic crime, Oklahoma provided him with incompetent lawyers, who failed the give the jurors information some of them now say might have changed their decision. Allowing Mr. Grant to be executed is a final injustice in this tragic case."

Gay Carter's daughter, Pam Carter, spoke up at the hearing on behalf of her mother.

"I do believe the sentence is just," Carter said. "He did kill her."

Attorney General John O'Connor released a statement about the hearing, saying the death penalty was a just outcome for the murder of Gay Carter, and that his prayers were with the Carter family.

"Today, John Marion Grant's request for a recommendation of clemency was denied by the Pardon and Parole Board. Mr. Grant received a jury trial and, in 2000, received the sentence of death. This was a just and appropriate sentence for the brutal murder of Gay Carter," O'Connor said. "This conviction and sentence was affirmed after years of thorough review by the appellate courts. I am grateful that the Board denied Mr. Grant's request for executive clemency."

A few protesters stood outside the hearing.

Abraham Bonowitz, a protester of the death penalty, said he has an issue with Oklahoma's execution methods.

"More important we've also seen a level of incompetence," Bonowitz said.

After a pair of botched lethal injections, some are questioning if the death sentence should even be an option.

"We've been safe here from people that have done terrible things since 2015 when they were botching executions and ordering the wrong drugs and that thing," Bonowitz said. "We can be safe from dangerous offenders without killing them."

The execution date for Grant remains on Oct. 28.

Grant's clemency petition can be found here.

Additional background information on Grant can be accessed here.

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