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Lawyers, Death Penalty Opponents Present New Evidence In Glossip Case

Attorney Don Knight speaks to reporters during a state Capitol news conference Sept. 14, 2015.
Brian Hardzinski
Richard Glossip's attorney Don Knight speaks to reporters during a state Capitol news conference Monday.

Members of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip's defense team presented what they say is newly discovered information in the case Monday morning.

The attorneys hope to stop Glossip's execution scheduled for Wednesday.

Glossip was sentenced to die for the 1997 murder of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. During a state Capitol news conference, Glossip's attorney Don Knight painted maintenance worker Justin Sneed as a heavy drug user who lied about Glossip's involvement in order to save himself from the death penalty. Knight highlighted an affidavit from Richard Barrett, one of Sneed’s drug dealers at the time of the murder.

"People get very paranoid and mean when they're high on methamphetamine, and he (Barrett) said they'll shoot someone or even beat someone to death if it keeps someone from telling about the fact that they're using drugs,” Knight said.

Immediately after the news conference, Knight, Sister Helen Prejean and other death penalty opponents delivered the evidence to Gov. Mary Fallin's office, asking for a 60-day stay of execution so they can gather more evidence to present to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

“We don't want to go to court and say ‘Oh, well, wait a minute, now we have some new stuff. Now we have some new stuff again,' and keep going back'," Knight said. "We want to wait until the right time comes, but it isn't here yet. We have more work to do."

Fallin's spokesman Alex Weintz said attorneys in the governor's office would look at any new information presented, but they’re confident the jury in Glossip’s murder trial made the right call.

“Nothing that they’ve presented makes us think anything other than Richard Glossip is guilty,” Weintz said. “They’ve never asked for a meeting with the governor or anyone on our staff. They’ve never presented us with any new information. Everything that we’ve gotten has been through the press, and it’s very clear that they’re waging a PR campaign because they’re not confident at all about their legal footing.”

Lawyers for Glossip say Sneed lied about being hired by Glossip to kill Van Treese, and won't come forward because he's worried about a harsher sentence. They also say investigators used interrogation techniques on Sneed that are proven to elicit false statements, and that witness testimony indicates Sneed bragged to fellow prison inmates about setting Glossip up.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said afterward he doesn't think the group is confident in their case.

“If there's anything I see in all of the boxes of evidence and the video tapes and anything, or anything you provide to me, that causes me any concern about Mr. Glossip's guilt, I will call the governor's office and beg her to give him a stay,” Prater said.

Prater also called Monday's press conference a public relations campaign in order to abolish the death penalty.

“It’s just a delay tactic. These are the games that we see in these cases constantly, and we have to deal with it,” Prater said. “This is an attack on my office, this is an attack on law enforcement, this is an attack on the criminal justice system in Oklahoma and throughout this country.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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