OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — On Thursday, an Oklahoma appeals court upheld the murder conviction of death row inmate Richard Glossip, allowing for his execution on May 18, despite the state attorney general expressing doubts about certain testimony and evidence.
Glossip can still present his case for clemency to the five-member Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, which could suggest that the governor commute his sentence to life without parole.
Glossip has previously faced execution, with three instances coming within hours of his scheduled death.
An Oklahoma appeals court upheld the murder conviction of death row inmate Richard Glossip, paving the way for Glossip to be executed on May 18, despite the state attorney general’s concerns about some testimony and evidence. https://t.co/T6AEBFVymn
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 20, 2023
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals stated that Glossip’s case has been “extensively investigated and reviewed” and that he received “unprecedented access” to the prosecution’s files.
“However, he has not presented this court with adequate information to persuade us to reverse the jury’s conclusion that he is guilty of first-degree murder and deserves the death penalty,” Judge David Lewis wrote in the ruling.
Glossip’s attorney, Don Knight, said he will continue pursuing a new trial.
“It is inexcusable for the court to try to make the State proceed with his execution,” Knight stated. “We must not let this longstanding injustice go unopposed and will be petitioning for a review of this patently unfair ruling in the United States Supreme Court.”
Now 60, Glossip has consistently claimed innocence in the 1997 murder-for-hire of his ex-boss, Barry Van Treese, owner of the Best Budget Inn where Glossip was the manager. The motel’s handyman, Justin Sneed, confessed to robbing Van Treese and murdering him with a baseball bat but asserted he did so only after Glossip offered him $10,000.
Sneed, who received a life sentence, was the primary witness in two separate murder trials for Glossip, both resulting in a conviction and death sentence.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond requested the court to overturn Glossip’s conviction, claiming Sneed lied to the jury about his mental health and drug use. Drummond argued that Sneed’s false statements, along with other issues like evidence destruction, warranted a new trial.
The court’s ruling acknowledged Drummond’s statement that he was not implying Glossip’s innocence but rather that justice would not be served by executing him “based on the testimony of a compromised witness.”
“The attorney general’s ‘concession’ does not present statutory or legal grounds for relief in this case,” the ruling said.
Drummond stated that he respects the court’s decision, but will explore other options to prevent Glossip’s execution from occurring as planned.
“Guaranteeing the integrity of the death penalty requires absolute certainty,” he said in a statement. “I will carefully examine the ruling and contemplate what actions should be taken to ensure justice.”
Glossip’s scheduled execution in September 2015 was stopped when officials realized they had the incorrect lethal drug, a mistake that contributed to a nearly seven-year moratorium on Oklahoma’s death penalty.
Glossip’s case gained international attention when actress Susan Sarandon — who won an Oscar for her portrayal of death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean in the 1995 film “Dead Man Walking” — became involved in his case. Prejean has also acted as Glossip’s spiritual adviser and regularly visited him in prison. His case was featured in the 2017 documentary “Killing Richard Glossip.”
Richard Glossip’s murder conviction has been upheld by an Oklahoma appeals court, setting the stage for his execution on May 18. Despite concerns about the evidence and testimony, Glossip can still seek clemency from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. His case has garnered international attention and sparked discussions about the integrity of the death penalty.