McALESTER, Okla. – A man convicted for his role in a quadruple murder in 2005 was to receive a lethal injection Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
The execution of Gilbert Ray Postelle, 35, will be the fourth lethal injection in Oklahoma since October, when the state resumed lethal injections after a nearly seven-year hiatus.
At a December clemency hearing, Postelle did not deny his involvement in the 2005 Memorial Day shooting deaths of James Alderson, Terry Smith, Donnie Swindle and Amy Wright. But Postelle’s lawyer, Robert Nance, argued that his client suffered from a learning disability, was abandoned by his mother at a young age and began abusing methamphetamine almost daily from the age of 12. year.
“He’s a different man than he was,” Nance told the Pardons and Parole Board. “I think he needs some forgiveness because he grew up in an almost exclusively negative environment.”
Postelle himself also testified via video link from prison that he had used methamphetamine for days before the murders and had little recollection of the crimes.
“I understand that I am guilty and I accept it,” he said. “I don’t know anything more to tell you that I’m so sorry for what I did to all those families.”
Prosecutors say Postelle, her brother David Postelle, father Brad Postelle and another man committed the murders in a ‘blitzkrieg’ motivated by their belief that Swindle was responsible for a motorcycle accident that left Brad seriously injured. Postelle. But prosecutors said there was no evidence Swindle was involved in the crash.
Gilbert Postelle received two death sentences for the murders of Wright and Alderson after evidence showed he chased them as they tried to flee and shot them from behind with a gun.
“In her final moments, Amy Wright was screaming and clawing at the ground to escape Gilbert Postelle,” Assistant Attorney General Julie Pittman told the council.
Counsel also heard powerful testimony from one of the victim’s mothers, Mary Joe Swindle, who said she was never able to see her son’s body because he was so riddled with bullets. The panel ultimately voted 4-1 to deny Postelle clemency.
Oklahoma once had one of the busiest death chambers in the country, but all executions were put on hold in 2015 after a botched 2014 lethal injection and drug mix-ups that led to the execution of a detained with the wrong drug. Another inmate was moments away from being led into the death chamber before prison officials realized the same bad drug had been delivered for his execution.
In 2020, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said the state had secured a drug source, refined its lethal injection protocols, and was ready to resume executions using a three-drug combination that includes the sedative midazoloam, the paralytic vecuronium bromide, and the heart-stopping potassium chloride.