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Oklahoma Executes Gilbert Postelle For Memorial Day 2005 Quadruple Murder

Gilbert Postelle's execution for the murders of Amy Wright and James Alderson — two of the four people he killed in 2005 — was the fourth of seven scheduled after the end of a six-year moratorium in Oklahoma.

By Jax Miller
Gilbert Postelle Pd

An Oklahoma death row inmate was executed on Thursday morning for his role in a 2005 quadruple homicide.

Gilbert Postelle, 35, was pronounced dead at 10:14 a.m. after the state executed him via lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, according to ABC affiliate KOCO 5.

The execution came just one month after Postelle and another inmate on death row for separate crimes sought temporary injunctions ahead of their executions and to die by firing squad, as reported by the AP. The men argued that the three-drug concoction of lethal injection posed risks of unnecessary pain and suffering

The state had botched an execution in 2014 with that cocktail, causing a six-year hiatus in the practice.

A judge denied both the men’s requests to die by firing squad, according to News 9, before Postelle's death.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor made a brief statement on his Facebook page following Postelle’s execution.

“The State’s execution of Gilbert Postelle was carried out with zero complications at 10:14 this morning,” stated O’Connor. “Justice is now served for Amy Wright, James Alderson, Terry Smith, Donnie Swindle and the people of Oklahoma.”

Postelle’s execution was the fourth in the state since Oklahoma resumed lethal injection last fall after that six-year moratorium — and, according to ABC News, he was one of seven people originally scheduled to die within five months of the moratorium's end. Last November, the high-profile death sentence of Oklahoma’s Julius Jones was commuted just hours before his scheduled execution.

Postelle — along with his brother and father — was accused of carrying out what prosecutors referred to as a “blitz attack” on Memorial Day in 2005, according to NBC News. That day, James Alderson, Terry Smith, Donnie Swindle, and Amy Wright were shot to death because the Postelles blamed Swindle for causing a motorcycle crash that left Gilbert’s father, Brad Postelle, severely injured.

Prosecutors, however, stated that the family's belief in Swindle’s involvement in the crash was unfounded.

Gilbert Postelle received two death sentences for the deaths of Alderson and Wright after prosecutors proved he’d shot them in the back as they attempted to flee. He was sentenced to life without parole for Smith and Swindle's murders, according to News 6.

During a clemency hearing last December, Assistant Attorney General Julie Pittman painted a grisly picture for the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board when describing the shootings.

“In her final moments, Amy Wright was screaming and clawing the ground to escape from Gilbert Postelle,” said Pittman.

Postelle admitted his guilt during the clemency hearing; the defense cited his methamphetamine use and learning disabilities as reasons behind his actions.

“I do understand that I’m guilty, and I accept that,” Postelle said at the hearing. “There’s nothing more that I know to say to you all than I am truly sorry for what I’ve done to these families.”

The board subsequently denied clemency for Postelle, according to KOCO.

Postelle declined to say any last words on Thursday as he was strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber.

“Today did not put closure on anything,” said Shelli Milner, the sister of Donnie Swindle. “His family grieves as our families have grieved for 17 years. To know that he will never walk this earth again does give me a little more peace than I had yesterday.”

Before the six-year moratorium, Oklahoma’s death chambers were some of the busiest in the United States, NBC News reported, but calls for reform came after the botched 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett. According to the AP, Lockett was given the state’s then-new three-drug combination, causing the inmate to writhe and clench his teeth while straining to lift himself from the gurney. Prison authorities had to lower the blinds to shield the scene from those watching in the gallery before halting the process.

Lockett died of a heart attack a short time later. 

Postelle’s execution on Thursday came just days after the release of autopsy results for another Oklahoma death row inmate showed the man aspirated on his own vomit, Fox 25 reported. John Grant, the first of the seven people Oklahoma had scheduled to execute after its years-long postponement, reportedly convulsed and vomited on the gurney after the first of three drugs were administered.

Director Scott Crow of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said Postelle died 14 minutes after the first drug was administered, according to News 6.

“I believe the last executions were smooth, and so was this one,” said Crowe. “This inmate was without comment and very cooperative; no complications.”

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