Oklahoma executed the nation’s first death row inmate of 2022 Thursday morning. Donald Grant was convicted of murdering two women in 2001.
More than 20 years after the brutal murders of Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith at a Del City hotel, their admitted murderer was executed without incident.
Grant was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. Witnesses said his last words were disjointed but included, “I’ve done this before. I’m going to the universe. I’ll be back.”
“Today was (sic) mixed emotions,” McElyea’s sister, Shirl Pilcher, said. “I’m glad that we’re finally here. Glad that justice is finally served.”
“He appeared to be asleep or unconscious. Peaceful is what I wrote down,” Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy said after witnessing the execution.
“The last execution was described as uneventful and I think that would be an adequate description for this one,” The Oklahoman reporter Nolan Clay said.
Grant, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, told police in 2001 he killed the two women to not leave any witnesses to a robbery. He said he was trying to get money to bail his girlfriend out of jail.
“I spent most of my time being in awe of my little sister,” Pilcher said.
She remembers Brenda as a talented artist and great sister who had a dream of becoming a doctor.
Working as a desk clerk, Smith was days away from going back to school. She’s remembered as an energetic and intelligent mother, wife and daughter.
“Hopefully, that’s not always the first thought, that, ‘Oh, she was murdered. Oh, maybe we’re not going to get justice. Oh, maybe this is as good as it gets,’” Pilcher said. “Maybe we can think, ‘Oh, I remember when we went to the fair, remember when I brought my daughter home from the hospital and she held her for the first time.’ Those are the kinds of memories that I want us to remember, and I want to finally get to. It’s been a long time coming.”
The state’s next execution of convicted murderer Gilbert Postelle is scheduled for Feb. 17.