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Court Denies Glossip’s Appeals, Execution To Move Forward Wednesday

Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Eugene Glossip
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Eugene Glossip

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied death row inmate Richard Glossip’s request for a hearing on evidence his attorneys say casts doubts on his guilt, paving the way for his execution Wednesday afternoon.

In a 3-2 decision Monday, the court denied Glossip’s application for post-conviction relief, as well as an evidentiary hearing and a motion for discovery. The court said any further request for a stay of execution is also denied, which means his scheduled Sept. 30 execution will go forward.

Read the decision from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

"Two Judges believed a further stay of execution and a hearing on innocence was required on the facts," Glossip's attorney Don Knight said in a statement. "We should all be deeply concerned about an execution under such circumstances.”

Glossip was convicted of orchestrating the murder of his boss, Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese, in 1997. The Best Budget Inn’s maintenance man, Justin Sneed, confessed to beating Van Treese to death with a baseball bat, but said Glossip paid him to do it. Defense attorneys argue Sneed implicated Glossip as the mastermind in order to spare himself from the death penalty. Sneed is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in the medium-security Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington.

The majority opinion, written by Judge David Lewis, says Glossip has not suffered a miscarriage of justice, and that new evidence brought to light by his defense attorneys only expands on theories raised in his earlier appeal denied by the OCCA. The Court said delaying the execution further would only result in evidence similar to what’s already been presented, and a further stay, evidentiary hearing, or discovery is not warranted.

Just hours before Glossip was scheduled to die September 16, the Court of Criminal Appeals intervened, and granted a two-week reprieve so his attorneys could gather evidence. The defense’s case is built around what they say is unreliable testimony from Sneed, as well as other witnesses who testified Sneed was a drug addict who killed Van Treese to fuel his habit, and bragged in prison about setting Glossip up.

In a dissenting opinion, Presiding Judge Clancy Smith said she would’ve granted a 60-day stay and remanded the case to Oklahoma County District Court for an evidentiary hearing. She said Glossip’s imminent execution means he’ll suffer irreparable harm without a stay.

“While finality of judgment is important, the State has no interest in executing an actually innocent man,” Judge Smith writes. “An evidentiary hearing will give Glossip the chance to prove his allegations that Sneed has recanted, or demonstrate to the Court that he cannot provide evidence that would exonerate him.”

Judge Arlene Johnson wrote in her dissent that she doesn’t believe Glossip received a fair trial, and that the majority’s denial seems like a preemptive move to keep Glossip’s attorneys from filing any additional last-minute claims.

“I believe such a ruling to be in conflict with this Court’s authority and purpose,” Johnson wrote.

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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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