Oklahoma set to execute Richard Glossip despite concerns over evidence, drugs

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Richard Glossip

McAlester, Okla. – Richard Glossip is scheduled to die Wednesday despite widespread concerns about his trial and the way Oklahoma plans to execute him.

Glossip was convicted of murder for the 1997 death of motel owner Barry Van Treese, though Glossip wasn’t the actual killer.

The man who bludgeoned Van Treese to death, Justin Sneed, testified that Glossip hired him for the murder. But jurors weren’t presented with evidence that Sneed gave contradictory accounts to police about what happened, wrote Sister Helen Prejean, who ministers to prisoners on death row.

Prejean also noted the lack of evidence linking Glossip to the crime.

Glossip’s scheduled death will also be the first in Oklahoma since a bitterly divided Supreme Court allowed the use of the drug midazolam in June.

The drug was used in the highly publicized execution of Clayton Lockett last year. Lockett’s execution was one of the longest in U.S. history; he moaned and writhed on the gurney for 43 minutes before dying of a heart attack.

A state investigation linked the problem to the IV lines not being inserted correctly.

But the state did not deem it necessary to change its controversial three-drug formula. Of particular concern is the use of the sedative midazolam, also used in two other executions that went awry: Dennis McGuire agonized for 26 minutes in Ohio, and Joseph Wood gasped more than 600 times and took two hours to die in Arizona.

In a phone interview with CNN’s Moni Basu earlier this year, Glossip said he was terrified he will suffer a similar agonizing death for a crime he said he didn’t commit.

“I am worried they will botch it again,” Glossip said.

Oklahoma upped its dosage of midazolam to 500 milligrams, compared with the 100 milligrams Lockett got.

Glossip, who has spent more that 17 years in a cell near the death chamber, also spoke about the man whose testimony led to his death sentence.

“At first I was angry at Justin, but now I feel sorry for him,” Glossip said. “He’s afraid of how Oklahoma will kill him if he owns up to what really happened, just like I am afraid of how they’ll kill me.”

With just hours before Glossip’s scheduled execution, his lawyers asked Gov. Mary Fallin for a 60-day reprieve based on the new evidence of innocence they say they discovered in the past two weeks.

But Gov.  Fallin denied a stay of execution yet again late Tuesday afternoon.

In a press release, Fallin said “We find none of the material to be credible evidence of Richard Glossip’s innocence.”

But, she went on to urge Glossip’s legal team to present the information to a court of law saying “Courts, unlike my office, have the legal authority to grant an indefinite stay of execution of a retrial.”

And, that is exactly what Glossip’s attorneys did Tuesday afternoon, filing what’s called a “successor petition” with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, asking for a hearing.

But at a clemency hearing for Glossip last year, Van Treese’s brother expressed no sympathy for the inmate.

“I will speak for my brother,” Kenneth Van Treese said. ” ‘It hurts like hell to have your head bashed in with a baseball bat. Do not feel sorry for the bastard who took my life.’ ”