Richard Glossip was scheduled to be executed last week in Oklahoma, but his execution was postponed for the fourth time last month.
Glossip’s lawyers have filed a clemency petition for a new evidentiary hearing in his murder case, with the support of 62 Oklahoma state representatives, and claim to have new evidence for the court of appeals to consider while reviewing the petition.
“If the state wishes to contest any of this, we would appreciate it. We would appreciate a hearing. We are not requesting that Richard Glossip be released. We’re simply asking for the opportunity. Give us that opportunity, “Glossip’s attorney, Don Knight, stated at a press conference on September 22.
Glossip, 59, was convicted in his boss’s 1997 murder-for-hire and has spent 25 years in prison, but he maintains his innocence. His execution had already been postponed three times, and his most recent execution date, which had been set for Thursday, had been pushed back until January.
Knight is referring to evidence uncovered in an independent investigation released on Tuesday by the Reed Smith law firm showing what Glossip’s legal team claims are prosecutors’ alleged attempts to feed information to another man involved in the case, Justin Sneed, which ultimately kept him from becoming a primary suspect.
Glossip “had no prior criminal record and has been a model prisoner for over 25 years while maintaining his innocence,” according to the petition, and the death row inmate is currently facing his fourth execution date, while Sneed, who Glossip’s attorneys claim is the “real killer… is serving a life sentence for the same crime.”
Glossip was sentenced to death for the murder of Barry Van Treese in 1997. Prosecutors claim Glossip murdered Van Treese, the owner of a motel where Glossip worked, by convincing Sneed, a 19-year-old maintenance worker, to carry out his murder.
Sneed is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to murdering Van Treese with a baseball bat in a hotel room. Sneed testified that he murdered Van Treese only after Glossip promised him $10,000 to do so.
According to Reed Smith’s most recent report, Sneed intended to recant at one point. A handwritten note from the law firm shows Sneed asking his attorney, “Do I have the option of recanting at any time during my life?”
Glossip’s attorneys claim that public defenders steered Sneed away from recanting and concealed evidence that could have influenced a different ruling for Glossip decades ago.
“The truth is, in this case… it is becoming increasingly clear with each passing day that the prosecution not only destroyed evidence – they manufactured evidence,” Knight said Thursday”They changed people’s testimony, they broke the rules, all to try to get a conviction against Rich Glossip in a death penalty case that should never have been brought in the first place.”
He went on: “Nobody knows who Rich Glossip is. He is not a powerful individual. He’s the same as the rest of us. This is what the government can do when given free rein. To do whatever they want in a case when the lawyers are inept, when the lawyers conceal evidence, and when the government conducts an insufficient investigation.”
One of the many lawmakers advocating for a new hearing, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, said Thursday that their efforts are “not about the DA’s office.”
“This is about procedure,” said the state representative.