The execution of Richard Glossip was granted a two-week stay few hours before he was scheduled to be given the lethal injection.
Glossip, accused of the 1977 death of motel owner Barry Van Treese, was scheduled to die at 3 p.m. local time. But the order of stay of the execution, issued by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, came just three hours before he was to be given the lethal injection. The move came after concerns were raised about how Glossip’s trial was handled and the manner in which his execution was planned by the state. Glossip’s attorneys made several motions 24 hours before the scheduled execution, which the court said it needed to look into. The court wrote, “Due to Glossip’s last minute filing, and in order for this court to give fair consideration to the materials included with his subsequent application for post-conviction relief, we hereby grant an emergency stay of execution for two weeks.”
Glossip was ordered twice for ordering the killing of Van Treese, owner of the Oklahoma City motel, in 1997. Justin Sneed, Glossip’s co-worker, was convicted for beating Van Treese to death. Sneed was a key prosecution witness in the trial of Glossip, who has since maintained that he was framed.
Glossip’s lawyers brought forth new evidence, including a signed affidavit from an inmate who claims to have heard Sneed say he framed Glossip.
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According to NEWS.com.au, prosecutor Bob “Cowboy” Macy said Glossip was the “mastermind” of Van Treese’s murder. Glossip, however, received support from several Hollywood personalities and a woman, who claims to have inside information regarding the case, saying that Macy’s account was wrong. Sneed’s daughter O’Ryan said in a letter to the Oklahoma clemency board that her father set up Glossip for the murder. “I strongly believe he (Glossip) is an innocent man on death row,” the letter said. “One innocent life has already been taken by my father’s actions. A second one doesn’t deserve to be taken as well.”
However, Sneed maintained in a recent interview at The Frontier that Glossip had ordered the murder. His family assert that O’Ryan was manipulated into sending the letter, which could not be considered or hold any significance as it reached the parole board late.
Several prominent personalities, like Sister Helen Prejean, former Senator Tom Coburn, and former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer, urged Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to stay the execution order. After the stay was issued, Fallin said in a statement that the “court is the proper place for Richard Glossip and his legal team to argue the merits of his case. My office will respect whatever decision the court makes, as we have throughout this process.”
Glossip’s friend, Kim Van Atta, said that his friend was innocent “from the start.”
“There’s no physical evidence, no rational motive. It just makes no sense,” Van Atta said.
“There’s a view that people on death row must’ve done something wrong. But Richard’s an outlier. He’s just a normal, decent guy. He has no criminal record, no history of violence.”
Glossip has spent in excess of 17 years in a cell. Speaking about Sneed, he said that initially he “was angry at Justin, but now I feel sorry for him. He’s afraid of how Oklahoma will kill him if he owns up to what really happened, just like I am afraid of how they’ll kill me.”
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