Donald Anthony Grant The U.S. Sun, widely known as Donald Grant, was an American criminal who was held guilty in double murders in 2001 in Del City. On 27 January 2022, Grant was executed by the state of Oklahoma through lethal injections (despite a lawsuit against the method in America). He is the first person in America to be executed in 2022. Grant is also the third person in Oklahoma who was put to death by lethal injection since it resumed in Oklahoma in 2021 (after around 7 years of the ban). Independent
Donal Grant was born in 1976 (age 46 years; at the time of death) in New York City. In the 1980s, during the crack epidemic, Grant was brought up at a housing project in New York City. His family members experienced alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness and Grant was beaten a lot by his father (who was an alcoholic) in childhood.
He led a tragic life. According to one of his relatives,
The refrigerator was locked when he (Donald Grant) was 8 years old and the grandmother would only feed the girls and the boys had to go on the streets to steal food basically.”
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Bald
Eye Colour: Black
There is not much information available about his family. Grant’s father was an alcoholic.
In the year 2001, Grant was dating a girl who was imprisoned in America. He robbed a hotel in 2001 in Del City to fetch the bail amount for her girlfriend.
What did Donald Grant Do?
At the age of 25, Donald Grant conducted a robbery at the La Quinta Inn in Del City in July 2001. Reportedly, he robbed the hotel to collect bail money for her girlfriend, who was imprisoned in America. During the robbery, in order to leave no witnesses to his robbery, Grant killed two of the hotel employees named Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith. Brenda McElyea was 29 years old and Felicia Suzette Smith was 43 years old at that time.
After conducting the robbery, he went back home and wrote a confession letter. The letter read,
So I’m sitting in the house cleaning my gun with a kill on my mind for whoever’s is there.”
Clemency Appeal by Grant
Grant was sentenced to death after he was held guilty in the case in 2005. Following the verdict, Donald Grant filed various appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his sentence in the murder case of Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith. His attorneys Susan Otto and Emma Rolls appealed in the court that their client (Donald Grant) was subject to violent abuse in childhood by his alcoholic father. As a result, he was suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome and mental illness. They requested the court to show some kindness to Donald Grant. They asked the court to delay his execution giving an example of the execution of another inmate John Grant in October 2021. Apparently, John Grant suffered from convulsions and vomited several times after he was injected with the first drug, the sedative midazolam. On the other hand, the member’s of the victims’ families beseeched for justice. They urged the court to reject his clemency appeal. One of McElyea’s sisters recalled the pain she experienced when she had to inform her father of McElyea’s murder. She said,
I had to call my dad and tell him his daughter, his baby girl, was dead. I had never seen him cry, but that night I heard him weep and it broke my heart.”
Clemency Hearing in November 2021
In November 2021, during a hearing for his clemency appeal at The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, confessed that he killed Felicia Suzette Smith and Brenda McElyea during the robbery in Del City as he wanted to leave no witnesses to his robbery. Expressing sincere deep remorse, Donald Grant said that he was guilty of conducting double murders and blamed the devil for the killings in 2001 in front of the board. He said,
First and foremost … I’d like to express my … sincere deep regrets and remorse for my actions. I know words can’t bring them back. I understand. … I can’t change that. You know, I wish I could and everything.”
However, the board was told that Donald had brutally killed the two hotel employees. He shot the INN manager Brenda McElyea fatally as she begged for her life and shot the front desk clerk, Suzette Smith, in the face three times. Despite the gunshots, when Smith survived, Grant slit Smith’s throat and beat her over the head with a computer monitor, a VCR, and his gun. The vote to reject his clemency request was 4-1 at The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and he was denied clemency. The board scheduled his execution on January 27, 2022, through the lethal injections method.
Seeking Emergency Stay
Grant asked the federal judge to permit him a temporary decree (to delay his execution) until a trial can be held over the three-drug lethal injection method in Oklahoma. He had requested the U.S. Supreme Court to offer him killing by firing squad method for his execution, saying that the method would be less painful and quick. He and a few other death row inmates in Oklahoma had earlier challenged the use of the drug sedative midazolam for their executions. In their suit, they claimed that the drug was very harmful to the human body, giving examples of the problems created by it in several past executions. They feared the risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering. On 26 January 2022, his last appeal for an emergency stay was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that the court could offer no mercy for his crime.
OK CADP Protest
On 27 January 2022, just a few hours before Grant’s execution, The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK CADP) protested outside the governor’s mansion to stop Donald’s execution.
Donald Grant’s Execution
On 27 January 2022, around 18 witnesses were present at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for the execution of Donald Grant. The witnesses included a few news reporters, prosecutors, a police chief, his victims family members, and Grant’s loved ones. Before his execution, Grant was asked to deliver a final speech of two minutes. He started by saying, “Yo, God, I got this. I’m solid, son. No meds, no nothing. I’m solid.”
He added, “I’m going to go to the universe, and then I’ll be back. God is here. The true god.”
Grant then began chanting unintelligible. Grant further started talking about the seven witnesses who attended the execution on his behalf. Soon, he was told that his two minutes to speak were over. However, he didn’t stop and continued to talk about his loved ones. Thereafter, a prison staff member in the execution chamber cut off the microphone but Grant kept speaking even after the microphones were turned off. He kept looking at his family members sitting in the front row of the witness room and tears started rolling down his face. Grant was given the first drug of lethal injections at 10: 03 a.m. He fell unconscious at around 10:08 and breathed his last at 10:16 a.m.
Donald Grant’s execution was the 1541st execution in the U.S. since capital punishment was resumed in the U.S. in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
After Grant was pronounced dead, McElyea’s sister Shirl Pilcher while talking to the reporters said that she and her family were happy that justice was finally served. She said,
Although Donald Grant’s execution does not bring Brenda back, it allows us all to finally move forward knowing that justice was served. Our memories can hopefully be less jaded and clouded by the past. For me, whenever I have a thought of her I always have to go back to, ‘Is he going to get out? Is something going to change? And now today I know that that’s finally over and that’s done.”
She further said,
I hope that now when … when I think of her, I can go straight to that memory, whether it was when I first brought my daughter home from the hospital (Brenda) was there. Hopefully, those types of memories can come to the foreground and I don’t have to go through the past to be able to remember the memory of her instead of the memory of her death.”
The Last Meal
The night before his execution, when Donald was asked what he wanted to have in his last meal, he requested a large delicious meal. The menu included sesame chicken, six egg rolls, shrimp fried rice, and a large apple fritter. In case the dessert was not available, he ordered three pints of strawberry ice cream as an alternative. Meaww