Oklahoma is set to carry out its second execution of the year this week by putting to death a man sentenced to die for his role in a 2005 quadruple slaying.
Gilbert Ray Postelle, 35, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Thursday.
Postelle, who was 18 at the time of the crimes, was sentenced to die for his involvement in the Memorial Day 2005 shooting deaths of James Alderson, Terry Smith, Donnie Swindle and Amy Wright at a home in southeast Oklahoma City.
He was handed two death sentences for the killings of Wright and Alderson after evidence showed he chased the two as they were trying to flee and then shot them from behind.
Prosecutors say Postelle, his brother David Postelle, father Brad Postelle and another man carried out the killings because they believed Swindle was responsible for a motorcycle accident that left Brad Postelle seriously injured.
In December 2021, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 to reject clemency for Gilbert Postelle.
“I do understand that I’m guilty and I accept that,” Gilbert Postelle testified via video link during the clemency hearing, The Associated Press reported. “There’s nothing more that I know to say to you all than I am truly sorry for what I’ve done to all these families.”
He also said that he had been using methamphetamine for days before the killings and remembered little.
Gilbert Postelle’s attorney, Robert Nance, had argued that Postelle had an IQ in the low 70s and had suffered from years of methamphetamine abuse starting when he was 12. He said Postelle had changed in prison and is trusted enough to work as a unit orderly whose duties involve delivering meals and mail.
But the board heard from members of the victims’ families who urged them to reject the request for clemency.
“We never got to see him after he was murdered because his body was riddled and torn with bullets,” Swindle’s mother, Mary Jo Swindle, said. “You may be a changed man, but my son and three others are still dead.”
Gilbert Postelle’s execution is moving ahead despite a trial about the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection protocol set to start on February 28. The lawsuit brought by inmates argues the protocol violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
If it goes ahead, Gilbert Postelle will become the fourth man put to death since Oklahoma ended a six-year moratorium on capital punishment with the execution of John Marion Grant in October 2021.
The moratorium was imposed in 2015 following a series of botched and flawed executions. Grant’s execution fueled outrage after witnesses said he repeatedly convulsed and vomited after the sedative midazolam was administered.
Death penalty opponents are planning to hold protests outside Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s mansion on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to call for a halt to Gilbert Postelle’s execution. A vigil is also scheduled to take place outside the state penitentiary on Thursday morning.
“At age 18, intellectually impaired Gil Postelle did as his father asked him to do,” said Randy Bauman, a member of the board of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
“He is—maybe—a hair above some of the bare minimums to even be eligible for the death penalty. Yet we are planning not only to kill him, but to do it with a method so questionable it warrants a trial in a couple of weeks on whether it can be used. A couple of weeks. We should at least wait for that trial to be held which the Governor can easily arrange. The Governor should grant a temporary reprieve, a power he has for just such a situation.”