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Oklahoma attorney general refers Glossip hearing request to courts

Richard Glossip
Posted at 11:57 AM, Aug 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 23:22:48-04

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor responded to a letter from more than 60 state lawmakers on Tuesday passing the request for a new hearing for Richard Glossip on to the courts.

The letter, cosigned by many Republicans who support the death penalty, called for an evidentiary hearing that could lead to a stop of Glossip's execution. O'Connor said in a statement it will be up to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to make any decisions.

“While my office has the utmost respect for the opinions of the members of the Legislature who signed a letter in support of Glossip’s request for an evidentiary hearing, it is the courts who are authorized to make decisions regarding claims of factual or legal innocence raised on appeal. With that in mind, I look to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to carefully consider the claims before it and render a decision that complies with Oklahoma law.”

The group fighting for the hearing pointed to an independent investigation by a Texas law firm that raised questions about Glossip’s guilt. Details of the report came out a couple of weeks before the announcement of Glossip's Sept. 22 execution date.

“The report concluded that no reasonable juror who heard all the evidence would find Mr. Glossip guilty,” the letter said. “As elected officials representing the citizens of this great state, we believe it is vitally important to conduct a serious review of this case so that the truth might be conclusively found.”

The report by the Houston law firm Reed Smith did not find any definitive proof of Glossip’s innocence, but raised concerns about lost or destroyed evidence and a detective asking leading questions to Glossip’s co-defendant, Justin Sneed, to implicate Glossip in the 1997 killing of Glossip’s boss, motel owner Barry Van Treese. Sneed, who admitted killing Van Treese but said he did so at Glossip’s direction, was sentenced to life in prison and was a key witness against Glossip.

Prosecutors in O'Connor's office have urged the Court of Criminal Appeals to reject Glossip’s request for an evidentiary hearing, suggesting it’s a delay tactic.

“The appellant’s actions in this sense are dilatory and only prolong the wait for justice for the victim, Barry Van Treese, and his family in this case,” the state wrote in July after Glossip objected to the court setting his execution date.

Van Treese’s brother, Ken Van Treese, said Monday that Glossip was twice convicted and twice sentenced to death by two separate juries.

“Having sat through and testified at both, the facts that were presented at both trials never varied,” Van Treese wrote in a message to The Associated Press. “As far as I’m concerned, the guilty verdicts awarded were completely justified and the duly sworn jurors agreed with facts presented.

“The citizens of Oklahoma made this determination based upon the facts in the case. They decided the case based upon Oklahoma law.”

Glossip, now 59, has maintained his innocence. He has been scheduled to be executed three separate times, only to be spared shortly before the sentence was set to be carried out. He was just hours from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had received the wrong lethal drug, a mix-up that led in part to a nearly seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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