Republican Oklahoma lawmakers seek hearing in death row case
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — More than 60 Oklahoma lawmakers, including many Republicans who support the death penalty, urged the state attorney general to join their request for a new evidentiary hearing in the case of death row inmate Richard Glossip.
The group of 61 state legislators sent a letter last week to Attorney General John O’Connor that pointed to an independent investigation by a Texas law firm that raised questions about Glossip’s guilt. Details of the report came out a couple of weeks before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set a Sept. 22 execution date for Glossip.
“The report concluded that no reasonable juror who heard all the evidence would find Mr. Glossip guilty,” the letter stated. “As elected officials representing the citizens of this great state, we believe it is vitally important to conduct a serious review of this case so that the truth might be conclusively found.”
The report by the Houston law firm Reed Smith did not find any definitive proof of Glossip’s innocence, but raised concerns about lost or destroyed evidence and a detective asking leading questions to Glossip’s co-defendant, Justin Sneed, to implicate Glossip in the 1997 killing of Glossip’s boss, motel owner Barry Van Treese. Sneed, who admitted killing Van Treese but said he did so at Glossip’s direction, was sentenced to life in prison and was a key witness against Glossip.
O’Connor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but prosecutors in his office have urged the Court of Criminal Appeals to reject Glossip’s request for an evidentiary hearing, suggesting it’s a delay tactic.
“The appellant’s actions in this sense are dilatory and only prolong the wait for justice for the victim, Barry Van Treese, and his family in this case,” the state wrote in July after Glossip objected to the court setting his execution date.
Van Treese’s brother, Ken Van Treese, said Monday that Glossip was twice convicted and twice sentenced to death by two separate juries.
“Having sat through and testified at both, the facts that were presented at both trials never varied,” Van Treese wrote in a message to The Associated Press. “As far as I’m concerned, the guilty verdicts awarded were completely justified and the duly sworn jurors agreed with facts presented.
“The citizens of Oklahoma made this determination based upon the facts in the case. They decided the case based upon Oklahoma law.”
Glossip, now 59, has maintained his innocence. He has been scheduled to be executed three separate times, only to be spared shortly before the sentence was set to be carried out. He was just hours from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had received the wrong lethal drug, a mix-up that led in part to a nearly seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma.
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