New evidence is casting down on an Oklahoma death penalty case, just as the state prepares to execute its latest victim.
Wednesday at 3pm, unless a stay is granted, Oklahoma will kill Richard Glossip via lethal injection, despite overwhelming evidence that he is innocent. Here’s how Democracy Now! describes its report on the Glossip case:
Time is running out for Richard Glossip. The state of Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Glossip on Wednesday night, but his legal team is pushing for a new review of the case, saying the state is about to kill an innocent man.
On the night of January 6, 1997, while Glossip was working as a manager at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, his boss, Barry Van Treese, was murdered at the motel. There has never been a question about who committed the murder: A maintenance worker named Justin Sneed admitted entering the boss’s room and striking him multiple times with a baseball bat.
But Glossip was soon arrested, as well, for allegedly hiring Sneed to carry out the murder. The case rested almost solely on Sneed’s claims that Glossip had offered him money and job opportunities for the killing. Glossip’s attorneys say Sneed implicated their client in exchange for a deal to receive life in prison instead of the death penalty.
Sneed’s own daughter has said she believes Glossip is innocent. In a letter, O’Ryan Justine Sneed told the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board her father has spoken to her about recanting his original testimony. No physical evidence has ever tied Richard Glossip to the crime, and he has maintained his innocence.
We speak with the well-known anti-death-penalty activist and author Sister Helen Prejean; Kim Van Atta, who has corresponded with Richard Glossip for 16 years; and Liliana Segura, who wrote about Glossip’s case for The Intercept.
Along with Sneed’s daughter, who maintains that he will not recant his testimony because he fears being charged with the death penalty, one of the jurors that convicted Glossip also called for a stay of execution. Their statement reads, in part:
If the defense would have presented the case that they are presenting now in the original trial, (and dare I say in even the jurors in the second), I would have not given a guilty verdict. I think that now there is enough questions/evidence out there that there may by another story that what we as jurors were given. Why did that happen? I don’t know and frankly it pisses me off!!!!!! I feel that this situation needs to be looked at and at the VERY least given a 60 days stay to make for certain that all the stones are unturned and everything is looked at with a fine tooth comb.
Glossip was also the main plaintiff in the case where the Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s unorthodox chemical cocktail does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment for the condemned, despite what happened in previous executions, Scott Martelle noted yesterday in an OpEd for the Los Angeles Times:
The Supreme Court ruled that using midazolam, a light sedative, as the first drug in a three-drug execution cocktail does not expose the condemned to the risk of unconstitutionally excessive pain. That was after the original plaintiff in the four-plaintiff filing, Charles F. Warner, was executed while the case was pending, and reportedly said as the process was underway, “my body is on fire.” In fact, the executions of four other people that appeared to involve significant pain — Joseph Rudolph Wood III writhed for nearly two hours in Arizona’s death chamber — began with midazolam, the reason for the legal challenge.
Martelle also called for a stay of execution:
My opposition to the death penalty is absolute, and I hope that at some point a majority of the Supreme Court comes to recognize, as many justices have, that the system is too screwed up, and too prone to manipulation, to be relied on when it comes to the execution of someone. Did Sneed lie? It’s hard to say. Which is exactly why Fallin should grant this reprieve. After all, Oklahoma can always kill Glossip later. But if the new evidence shows, post-execution, that he is innocent, the damage is already done, and irreparable.
richardeglossip.com, a site devoted to his defense, urging people to get on the phone to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and demand a 60-day stay of execution. Her office can be reached at (405) 521-2342.