OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After a request for a new trial was denied, an Oklahoma death row inmate had a clemency hearing just weeks before his scheduled execution.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 2-2 to deny clemency for death row inmate Richard Glossip.
Richard Glossip has been on death row for 25 years for the murder of Barry Van Treese.
The case goes back to 1997, when Glossip and Justin Sneed were convicted of killing Glossip’s boss and owner of the Best Budget Inn, Barry Van Treese.
Although Sneed confessed to beating and killing Van Treese with a bat, Sneed testified that Glossip hired him to kill Van Treese.
In exchange for his testimony, Sneed was given a life sentence. Glossip was sentenced to death.
Over the years, Glossip has had his execution date delayed at least seven times.
His current execution date is set for May 18, 2023.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced that he wanted Glossip’s execution pushed back until after August 2024, in order for an independent counsel to complete its comprehensive review of Glossip’s case, conviction and sentence.
Glossip’s attorneys also filed for post-conviction relief, saying he did not receive a fair trial and the State did not adequately prove his involvement in Van Treese’s murder.
Last week, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied the request for a stay of execution and a new trial.
The court ruled that Glossip’s team did not provide anything “extraordinarily new” in the affidavit, and said the information was “insufficient to cause this Court to believe that Glossip is factually innocent.”
Following the decision, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said he was “not willing to allow an execution proceed despite so many doubts.”
As a result, Drummond said he planned to ask the states Pardon and Parole Board to recommend sparing Glossip’s life.
In a letter to the five-member board, Drummond wrote that he has serious concerns about the fairness of Glossip’s trial and cited two independent reviews of the case that recommended Glossip be granted a new trial.
“I am not aware of an Oklahoma Attorney General ever supporting a clemency application for a death row inmate,” Drummond wrote. “In every previous case that has come before this board, the state has maintained full confidence in the integrity of the conviction. That is simply not the case in this matter due to the material evidence that was not disclosed to the jury.”
Despite his concerns, it seems the board denied Glossip’s petition for clemency.
AG Drummond said took the unprecedented step of speaking on behalf of clemency only after an exhaustive review of the case.
“Public confidence in the death penalty requires that these cases receive the highest standard of reliability,” he said. “While the State has not questioned the integrity of previous death penalty cases, the Glossip conviction is very different. I believe it would be a grave injustice to execute an individual whose trial conviction was beset by a litany of errors.”
Drummond said that after looking into the case, he learned the state withheld a box of material from the defense. He says he ordered an independent review. The findings of that review led him to call to vacate the conviction and conduct a new trial.
“My heart truly hurts for the Van Treese family and what they have experienced over the past 26 years,” Drummond said. “It has been my privilege and honor to visit with them a number of times since my taking office. The grief and frustration they have endured is unfathomable and deeply unfortunate.”
Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna said Glossip’s case would not qualify for the death penalty in Oklahoma County under its current guidelines.
Now, Glossip’s attorney is asking Gov. Kevin Stitt to step in and stop his execution.
“We call on Governor Stitt to grant a reprieve of Richard Glossip’s scheduled execution on May 18, 2023 because the execution of an innocent man would be an irreversible injustice. We will pursue every avenue in the courts to stop this unlawful judicial execution. New evidence has shown that Justin Sneed, the person who committed the murder and the star witness for the prosecution, lied on the stand and wanted to recant his false testimony. If the jury had known what we know now, they never would have convicted Mr. Glossip. The national law firm Reed Smith undertook a thorough, independent review of this case and concluded that no reasonable juror who heard all the evidence, which has never been presented, would have found Mr. Glossip guilty of murder for hire. Then, an Independent Counsel appointed by Attorney General Drummond conducted another comprehensive review of Mr. Glossip’s case and documented multiple instances of error that cast serious doubt on Mr. Glossip’s conviction. AG Drummond, Oklahoma’s chief law enforcement officer, then took the extraordinary step of conceding error, citing ‘material misrepresentations’ by Mr. Sneed, and asked the court to throw out not just Mr. Glossip’s death sentence, but his entire conviction. The public support for Mr. Glossip is diverse, widespread, and growing, including at least 45 death penalty supporting Republicans in the Legislature who also reached the conclusion that there is too much doubt to execute Mr. Glossip. It would be a travesty for Oklahoma to move forward with the execution of an innocent man.”DON KNIGHT, ATTORNEY FOR RICHARD GLOSSIP