In a 3 to 2 vote, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended upholding the death penalty for John Marion Grant.
Grant is on death row for the 1998 death of Gay Carter, who was a kitchen worker at the Dick Conner Correctional Center.
He is also set to become the first person executed by the state in more than five years.
The decision all came down to one vote, as the final board member weighed Grant's criminal acts against the traumas of his childhood. The crux of his decision was whether Grant knew the difference between right and wrong.
“I have not heard anything to suggest that he did not know the difference from right and wrong. For that reason, my vote is no,” said board member Larry Morris.
Morris’ final vote keeps Grant on death row.
“It still hasn't sunk in quiet yet,” said Grant’s youngest brother, O.C. Frazier. “I hoped that they wouldn't put him to death and whatnot, but after you spend 40 years in prison, I mean, what else is left? He's been in there since 1981.”
Grant's family echoed the hardships his legal team said set him on a path of destruction from a young age. Grant and Frazier said they were born into poverty, with nine kids and a single mother. They said the facilities Grant was put in as early as 11 were rife with abuse.
“Our youth don't have to go through what he went through with those facilities,” said Frazier.
Frazier said their other siblings have lasting effects from their childhood.
“Even though they didn't get into trouble with the law, they still had mental issues,” he said.
The daughter of Gay Carter, Grant's victim, stood by her original testimony.
“Twenty years later, have you changed your thoughts or mind?” asked Morris.
“I have not changed my mind,” said Carter’s daughter.
She worked at the same prison as her mother and was there the day of the murder.
She said it still follows her like a shadow and the murder shows Grant is still a danger, even behind bars.
“With her just being a normal person with him and him misconstruing her normal interactions, I think any female that would show him a normal amount of attention would be in danger,” Carter's daughter said.
Grant's execution date is set for October 28.
Attorney General John O'Connor released the following statement after the pardon and parole board's decision:
"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. 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. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Gay Carter."