OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – Death row inmate Richard Glossip is set to die Dec. 8, but on Thursday his attorney and a lawmaker revealed newly uncovered evidence that they say brings his guilt into question.
“This is the poorest investigation I’ve ever seen in my life,” said House Representative JJ Humphrey, R-Lane.
Rep. Humphrey, along with Glossip’s attorney Don Knight, are asking for the case to be retried in court, in addition to an investigation being launched into the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office. The duo claims the inmate’s conviction was based on “bad evidence” and “cheating and lying.”
“This is unacceptable,” said Rep. Humphrey. “You’re looking at taking a person’s life, which makes you no better than a murderer.”
In 1997,Glossip and Justin Sneed were convicted of killing Glossip’s boss and owner of the Best Budget Inn, Barry Van Treese. Sneed confessed to beating Van Treese with a bat.
“How do you tell your kids they’re never going to see their dad again?” Donna Van Treese told KFOR back in 2017.
Sneed was given a life sentence in return for his testifying that Glossip hired Sneed to kill Van Treese. Glossip was sentenced to death.
A report from an independent investigation was released this week. It says Sneed wanted to “recant” his original testimony, citing a 2014 from his daughter that said, “His conscience is getting to him, his fear of recanting, but guilt about not doing so makes it obvious that information he is sitting on would exonerate Mr. Glossip.”
The full letter can be found below:
On Thursday, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office fired back saying, “Just this year Sneed stood by his earlier testimony against Glossip in both trials, reporting that, far from telling his family Glossip was not guilty, he told them: ‘it’s the truth and there’s nothing else to be there, but to stand on the truth.’”
The AG’s office also added, “If there were evidence that revealed Glossip’s innocence, we would be the first ones to ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to grant him an evidentiary hearing… It is disappointing that Glossip’s supporters are criticizing law enforcement, prosecutors, juries, and judges in an attempt to distract the public from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of Glossip’s guilt.”
Another point presented in Glossip’s defense on Thursday is that the independent investigators found that prosecutors allegedly gave Sneed information about other witnesses’ testimonies before Sneed took the stand in 2004.
“It calls into serious question the reliability of his testimony. That information was known by the prosecution since 2004, never turned over to the defense at all. We had to go find it in these files,” said Knight. “Not only did the prosecution destroy evidence, they manufactured evidence. They changed people’s testimony. They broke the rules, all to try to get a conviction against Rich Glossip on a death penalty case.”
Which is why he and Rep. Humphrey are now calling for an investigation into the DA’s office.
“I hold the DA’s office even more accountable than me,” said Rep. Humphrey. “They’re the top law enforcement officers.”
District Attorney David Prater responded to these allegations saying, “Professional attorneys handle matters in courtrooms before judges; not by calling press conferences. Attorney General John O’Connor’s office is handling this matter for the State of Oklahoma. I have full confidence in him and his attorneys to respond appropriately in a court of law, before a judge.”
The Attorney General’s full response to Thursday’s press conference can be found below:
“The State respects the right of those who support Richard Glossip to voice their opinions and even to attempt to try this case in the media. However, my office is fully devoted to our responsibility as prosecutors to seek justice.
“If there were evidence that revealed Glossip’s innocence, we would be the first ones to ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to grant him an evidentiary hearing. When justified in past cases, this office has joined with defendants in their requests for evidentiary hearings. We have also informed the Court in the past when an argument made on appeal requires relief.
“Despite several court filings by Glossip’s attorneys, we have seen no such evidence in this case.
“The courts are the forum for claims of innocence. I trust the Court of Criminal Appeals to sort through the record and to make its determination. It is that Court which has the authority to order a new hearing. Neither the Governor nor the Attorney General can order a new hearing.
“In today’s press conference, it was repeatedly said that Justin Sneed has wanted to ‘recant’ his testimony against Glossip. A careful reading of the latest report by Reed Smith reveals that, when Mr. Sneed used the word ‘recant,’ Sneed was referring to his hope to negotiate a shorter prison term in exchange for his testimony at Glossip’s second trial – but that never happened.
“In fact, just this year Sneed stood by his earlier testimony against Glossip in both trials, reporting that, far from telling his family Glossip was not guilty, he told them: ‘it’s the truth and there’s nothing else to be there, but to stand on the truth.’
“It is disappointing that Glossip’s supporters are criticizing law enforcement, prosecutors, juries, and judges in an attempt to distract the public from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of Glossip’s guilt.
“As prosecutors, we must be very cautious to respect the duty of the courts to reach the right result without public pressure. This ethical obligation includes a prohibition against discussing the evidence in a case unless it has been made public. The only items that Mr. Glossip’s counsel have not been able to review are work product materials, which are protected by law from disclosure, 12 O.S.2021, § 3226(3). And again, my office has ensured that nothing within those privileged documents falls within a prosecutor’s special duty to disclose.
“My office will continue to abide by the rules of law and ethics. Any insinuation to the contrary is false.”John O’Connor, Oklahoma Attorney General
Glossip’s clemency hearing is set for Nov. 9, according to Knight.