A federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Monday that 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, the AP reports, clearing the state to proceed with seven lethal injections scheduled over the next six months. The state plans to conduct its first execution in more than six years on Thursday when John Marion Grant, 60, is to die 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. Twenty-six of the 32 Oklahoma death row inmates who were on the original challenge provided the court with an alternative method of execution, including the use of different drug combinations or firing squad.
According to a table included in the judge's order, 19 of the 32 inmates proposed firing squad as an alternative method of execution. Firing squad is one of several execution methods authorized under Oklahoma law. Attorneys for the five inmates vowed to immediately appeal. "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, who represents Jones. "The district court acknowledged there are serious questions about the drug protocol used by Oklahoma and that it could cause unconstitutional pain and suffering."
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