His 4th Execution Date Is Set Even as New Evidence Surfaces

Oklahoma lawmakers push for new hearing for death row inmate Richard Glossip
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2022 1:04 PM CDT
His 4th Execution Date Is Set Even as New Evidence Surfaces
This Feb. 19, 2021, photo shows Richard Glossip.   (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP, file)

(Newser) – In June, an outside law firm hired to review a murder case that landed a man on death row in Oklahoma concluded "no reasonable juror hearing the complete record would have convicted Richard Glossip of first-degree murder." Houston's Reed Smith found prosecutors had intentionally destroyed "key physical evidence and potentially exculpatory financial documents" before trial. It also noted the sole person to implicate motel manager Glossip in the 1997 fatal beating of motel owner Barry Van Treese was the admitted killer, handyman Justin Sneed—and "only after the detectives mentioned Glossip's name to Sneed six times during his interrogation." Now, six weeks before Glossip's scheduled execution, the law firm has revealed another finding that suggests Sneed may have wanted to recant.

"There are a lot of things right now that are eating at me," Sneed, who is serving life without parole, wrote to his defense lawyer in a 2007 letter uncovered by the firm, per the Guardian. "Somethings I need to clean up," he continued. "I think you know were (sic) I'm going it was a mistake reliving this." In response, public defender Gina Walker wrote, "I know it was very hard for you to testify" at Glossip's second trial in 2004. But "had you refused [to testify], you would most likely be on death row right now." Glossip's legal team has long claimed that police guided Sneed to name Glossip as the mastermind of the murder and that he stuck to the story to avoid the death penalty for himself. This has only added to concerns that Oklahoma will execute an innocent man.

The letter strongly suggests "Sneed wanted to recant his statement implicating Richard Glossip, and his attorney shut him down," state Rep. Kevin McDugle, a Republican, says in a statement, per the Guardian. He's one of 61 Oklahoma lawmakers now calling for Attorney General John O'Connor to hold a special hearing to review new evidence in the case. The law firm Reed Smith noted it obtained new documents and spoke to witnesses never before interviewed by police or prosecutors. However, Van Treese's brother, Ken, is not on board, per the AP. "The facts that were presented at both trials never varied," he tells the outlet. "As far as I'm concerned, the guilty verdicts awarded were completely justified." The 59-year-old Glossip, who maintains his innocence, is set to be executed Sept. 22. (Read more death row stories.)

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