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Death Penalty Opponents Deliver Over 250,000 Petition Signatures To Gov. Fallin

Death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean speaks at a news conference at the Oklahoma state capitol on September 3, 2015.
Jacob McCleland
Death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean speaks at a news conference at the Oklahoma state capitol on September 3, 2015.

Death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean delivered over 250,000 online petition signatures to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday morning, requesting a 60-day stay of execution for Richard Glossip.

Glossip is scheduled to be executed on September 16.

Glossip was found guilty in the murder-for-hire scheme of Barry Van Treese in 1997. Prejean said Glossip’s defense was ineffective and she believes he is innocent. She said Glossip will die based on the testimony of Justin Sneed, the maintenance worker who killed Van Treese. Sneed said Glossip hired him to do it.

“There’s not a fingerprint of Richard Glossip on the money,” Prejean said. “There’s no forensic evidence to corroborate what Justin Sneed said. Solely on his word, Richard is going to his death.”

Glossip’s execution gained international attention after Prejean and actress Susan Sarandon called on Fallin to halt his death. Sarandon portrayed Prejean in the 1995 film “Dead Man Walking.”

Prejean called Gov. Fallin “a wonderful person” and appealed to her to review Glossip’s case.

“When there is a question, even though it’s been through the court system, all these questions that enough people are concerned,” Prejean said. “You do not want the shadow of the doubt. The Supreme Court has said death is different. You have to make sure it is beyond the shadow of the doubt.”

Fallin spokesperson Alex Weintz said the execution will go forward. He said two juries found Glossip guilty and both sentenced him to death. Fallin won’t second-guess them.

“He was given multiple appeals in state and federal court, including the Supreme Court of the United States,” Wentz said. “He made his argument before the Pardon and Parole Board. And those were the arguments we heard today from Sister Prejean and others.”

Weintz said the governor’s powers are limited in this situation. The most she can do is issue a 60-day stay. She cannot call off the execution, and she cannot grant clemency without a recommendation from the Pardon and Parole Board.

Richard Glossip’s daughter, Christina Glossip-Hodge, said she last saw her father on Wednesday and described his mental state as “positive.”

“He hasn’t gotten down. He’s got faith.  He’s got a lot of faith. He’s at a peace that I haven’t seen anyone at in my entire life,” Glossip-Hodge said.


Glossip will be the first inmate to be executed in Oklahoma after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the use of midazolam in executions does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.


Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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