Oklahoma Lawmakers Urge Execution Pause Amid Fears Man is Innocent

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Oklahoma has asked the state’s attorney general to call for a new hearing in the case of Richard Glossip, a death row inmate scheduled to be executed in September, over fears he is innocent. 

The letter was signed by 61 lawmakers, most of whom are pro-death penalty Republicans. 

Forty-four Republicans and 17 Democrats wrote to John O’Connor pleading for a new hearing, making it about more than a third of the state assembly. There is growing, mounting fear that Oklahoma is preparing to kill an innocent man. 

Glossip, 59, is due to be executed by the state on September 22 as a part of a sudden speeding up of capital punishment activity in Oklahoma. He was sentenced to death for the murder of Barry Van Treese in 1997, who was the owner of a Best Budget motel in Oklahoma City, where Glossip was the manager. 

Justin Sneed, the motel’s maintenance worker, admitted that he had beaten Van Treese to death with a baseball bat. But Sneed later turned state’s witness on Glossip, accusing the manager of having ordered the murder. As a result, Sneed, the killer, avoided the death penalty and was given a life sentence. Glossip was put on death row almost entirely on the basis of Sneed’s testimony against him, with no other forensic or corroborating evidence.

In the letter, the legislators ask the attorney general to call for a hearing to consider new evidence that has been uncovered in the cast. 

Last year the global law firm Reed Smith was asked by state lawmakers to carry out an independent investigation, which resulted in a 343-page report that found the state had intentionally destroyed key evidence before the trial. The review concluded that “no reasonable juror hearing the complete record would have convicted Richard Glossip of first-degree murder”.

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