Richard Glossip was convicted of hiring an Oklahoma teenager to kill a motel owner in 1997. The state’s only evidence against Glossip was the testimony of 19-year old Justin Sneed, who originally told authorities that he alone committed the crime. Only under threat of the death penalty and request by authorities to implicate Glossip, did Sneed claim Glossip paid him to commit the crime. As a result, Sneed received life in prison and Glossip was sentenced to death.
In a last-ditch effort to halt Wednesday’s execution of a likely-innocent death row inmate, Richard Glossip’s attorneys filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court today pleading with the justices to grant Glossip a stay of execution. As of Monday, all other options have been exhausted. Earlier this month, Governor Mary Fallin denied Glossip’s request for a stay, as did the governor-appointed Pardon and Parole Board and the governor-appointed Attorney General, and finally just yesterday, the governor-appointed Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Two weeks ago when Glossip was originally scheduled to be executed, the Court of Criminal Appeals granted a 14-day stay while they reviewed his request. However, they ultimately found that the “law favors finality of judgement,” meaning regardless of his innocence, the court must respect his earlier conviction and sentence.
Don Knight, an attorney representing Glossip on a pro-bono basis released a statement slamming the Court of Criminal Appeals, stating “This case splintered the Court of Criminal Appeals — a 3-2 vote. Two Judges believed a further stay of execution and a hearing on innocence was required on the facts. We should all be deeply concerned about an execution under such circumstances.” One judge even went so far as to call Glossip’s witnesses “as dubious as that of a jailhouse informant.” Ironically, Glossip’s conviction was based off of just that: a prisoner threatened with death.
Dissenting Judge Arlene Johnson wrote in the ruling “Because I believe Glossip did not receive a fair trial, I cannot join in the denial of this successive post-conviction application that further calls into doubt the fairness of the proceeding and the reliability of the result,” continuing to call Glossip’s trial “deeply flawed.” In addition to denying Glossip a temporary stay of execution, they also denied his request for a hearing to introduce newly uncovered evidence.
Last week, police arrested Richard Glossip’s witnesses in a coordinated effort with the District Attorney’s office to intimidate them. Just one day after Michael Scott told Glossip’s attorneys that he heard Justin Sneed brag about setting Glossip up, police arrested and jailed Scott due to a late unpaid traffic fine, preventing him from further assisting the defense team. When Scott was arrested, there were 15 police officers involved in this arrest, both at his mother’s place of employment and his house. At the police station Mr. Scott, still in handcuffs, was placed in a chair in the interrogation room, and Oklahoma Count District Attorney David Prater and an investigator entered the room and began interrogating Mr. Scott.
Fox 25 News found that police also destroyed evidence in Glossip’s case before having a chance to appeal. “Why would they do that? Why would they destroy evidence in a case that is yet to go back to trial that is on appeal? Why would anybody do that?” asks Don Knight, Glossip’s new lead attorney.
Rather than admit a mistake was made, apologize and fix it, Oklahoma decided to do everything they can to cover it up.
UPDATE: 9/30/15 – Governor Mary Fallin issued a 37-day stay of execution due to concerns over the State’s drugs.