A federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Monday the state can move forward with scheduled lethal injections for five death row inmates, including Julius Jones, whose case has drawn international attention and who is scheduled to die on Nov. 28.
Judge Stephen Friot denied a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by the five inmates, paving the way for the state to proceed with seven lethal injections scheduled over the next six months. The state is scheduled to conduct its first execution in more than six years on Thursday when John Marion Grant, 60, is set to receive a lethal injection for the 1998 killing of a prison cafeteria worker.
Grant, Jones and three other death row inmates were removed from a federal lawsuit challenging the state's three-drug lethal injection protocol because none of the five offered an alternative method of execution. A trial on that challenge is scheduled before Friot in February.
"The case is complete in this court as to these five plaintiffs," Friot said.
Attorneys for the five inmates vowed to immediately appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
"We will be asking the 10th Circuit to review Judge Friot's decision and to issue a stay for Mr. Grant's execution, as well as for the executions scheduled in the coming months," said assistant public defender Dale Baich, one of Jones' attorneys.
"The district court acknowledged there are serious questions about the drug protocol used by Oklahoma and that it could cause unconstitutional pain and suffering. With the trial on that question scheduled for February 2022, executions should not go forward."
A spokeswoman for Attorney General John O'Connor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friot's ruling.