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Richard Eugene Glossip
February 9, 1963
|Conviction(s)||1998, re-tried and re-convicted 2004: first-degree murder|
|Criminal penalty||Death (pending resumption of executions in Oklahoma)|
|Killed||Barry Van Treese|
|Imprisoned at||Oklahoma State Penitentiary|
Richard Eugene Glossip (born February 9, 1963) is an American man currently on death row at Oklahoma State Penitentiary after being convicted of commissioning the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese. Justin Sneed, the man who murdered Van Treese, agreed to plead guilty in exchange for testifying against Glossip, and received a sentence of life without parole. Glossip is the recipient of international attention due to the unusual nature of his conviction, for which there is little or no additional corroborating evidence.
Glossip is notable for his role as named plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case Glossip v. Gross, which ruled that executions carried out by a three-drug protocol of midazolam, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In September and October 2015, Glossip was granted three successive stays of execution due to questions about Oklahoma's lethal injection drugs after Oklahoma Corrections Department officials used potassium acetate to execute Charles Frederick Warner on January 15, 2015, contrary to protocol. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt ordered a multicounty grand jury investigation of the execution drug mix-up.
Murder of Barry Van Treese
On January 7, 1997, Justin Sneed beat Barry Van Treese to death gruesomely with a baseball bat. The killing occurred at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Van Tresse was the owner, Sneed was the maintenance man, and Richard Glossip was the manager. In exchange for avoiding the death penalty, Sneed confessed and told police that Glossip had instructed him to commit the murder.
Glossip insisted on his actual innocence and refused to accept a plea bargain. In July 1998, an Oklahoma jury convicted Glossip of the murder and sentenced him to death. In 2001, the unanimous Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out that conviction, calling the case "extremely weak" and finding Glossip had received unconstitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel.
In August 2004, a second Oklahoma jury convicted Glossip of the murder and sentenced him to death. Glossip complained that prosecutors had intimidated his defense attorney into resigning, but, in April 2007, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the death sentence, with two judges in the majority, one judge specially concurring, and two judges dissenting. Glossip attracted the advocacy of Sister Helen Prejean, but failed to get the clemency board to consider letters from Sneed’s family, who believe Sneed is lying.
Glossip's legal team asserts that Justin Sneed was addicted to methamphetamine at the time that he murdered Van Treese, and that he habitually broke into vehicles in the parking lot of the Best Budget Inn while he was employed as a maintenance man. Glossip's execution is controversial in that he was convicted almost entirely on the testimony of Sneed, who confessed to bludgeoning Van Treese to death with an aluminum baseball bat by himself and who was spared a death sentence himself by implicating Glossip.
In 2015, Oklahoma City police released a 1999 police report showing that a box of evidence had been marked for destruction. The report was never provided to attorneys who represented Richard Glossip in his second trial or his appeals according to his new defense team. In an interview published the same day Glossip's attorney Donald Knight criticised the previous attorneys, saying "They did a terrible job. Horrible. No preparation. No investigation."
On September 22, 2015, Glossip's attorneys filed papers referring to a July 1997 psychiatric evaluation of Sneed, in which he said he understood he was charged with murder in connection with a burglary and made no reference to Glossip's involvement.
On September 23, 2015, Glossip's attorneys filed papers complaining that two new witnesses were being intimidated. In affidavits, one witness had claimed that Sneed laughed about lying in court about Glossip's involvement; another said he was convinced based on his conversations with Sneed that Sneed acted alone. On September 24, 2015 the Oklahoma attorney general's office filed papers stating that the claims of the new witnesses were "inherently suspect", and that the time it took Van Treese to die and whether blood loss contributed to his death did not affect the trial outcome, in response to a defense claim that the testimony of Dr. Chai Choi, who performed the autopsy, was incorrect.
On September 28, 2015, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals voted 3-2 to proceed with execution. Presiding Judge Clancy Smith wrote "While finality of judgment is important, the state has no interest in executing an actually innocent man. 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 that the original trial was "deeply flawed" and an evidentiary hearing should be ordered.
On September 30, 2015, Glossip spoke to the UK's Sky News on the telephone from his cell as he was being served his last meal. Glossip said that Sneed testified at trial that Glossip did not wear or own gloves, "And now he's on TV saying that I did. It continues to show the discrepancies in anything that Justin Sneed has to say." On the same day, Virgin CEO Richard Branson bought an advertisement in The Oklahoman newspaper which had campaigned against the execution, with Branson stating the evidence against Glossip is flawed and that "every person is deserving of a fair trial", adding, "Your state is about to execute a man whose guilt has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt." The United States Supreme Court denied a stay of execution. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that he would grant a stay.
Richard Glossip has several high-profile supporters of his innocence, including Mark Ruffalo, Peter Sarsgaard, Sir Richard Branson, Susan Sarandon, Sister Helen Prejean, and Pope Francis.
Oklahoma lethal injection protocol controversy
On October 13, 2014, the Oklahoma Attorney General said the state did not have adequate supply of execution drugs, and delayed the execution of Glossip and two other inmates. On January 28, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court halted executions in Oklahoma until it decided on lethal injection drugs.
On October 1, 2015, Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to issue an indefinite stay of all scheduled executions in Oklahoma, citing the Department of Correction's acquisition of a drug contrary to protocol, the next day, the request was granted.
On October 6, 2015, Governor Mary Fallin said she hired an independent attorney, Robert McCampbell, to advise her on the legal process.
On October 8, 2015, it was reported that Oklahoma Corrections Department officials used potassium acetate to execute Charles Frederick Warner on January 15, 2015, contrary to protocol. An attorney representing Glossip and other Oklahoma death row inmates said logs from Warner's execution initialed by a prison staff member indicated the use of potassium chloride; however, an autopsy report showed 12 vials of potassium acetate were used.
According to a report on October 16, 2015, due to a grand jury investigation, it was likely the state would not conduct an execution for more than a year.
Glossip was the plaintiff in Glossip v. Gross, a U.S. Supreme Court case decided in June 2015 in which a divided Court ruled 5-4 that midazolam may be used as a sedative in combination with other lethal injection drugs. The case was originally titled Warner v. Gross, but Glossip replaced Charles Frederick Warner as the plaintiff after Warner was executed in January 2015, also by Oklahoma, before the case was decided.
In popular culture
- "Oklahoma Department of Corrections: Name Richard E Glossip ODOC# 267303".
- "Ex-Motel Manager Found Guilty in Murder". NewsOK.com. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- "Oklahoma court denies stay of execution in Richard Glossip case". america.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- "Appeals court grants Richard Glossip two week stay hours before execution". KFOR.com.
- Crimesider Staff (September 16, 2015). "Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip set to die for 1997 killing". Crimesider. CBS News. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
Richard Eugene Glossip's attorneys asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals late Tuesday to stop his lethal injection, saying they uncovered new details in the case, including a signed affidavit from an inmate who served time with Justin Sneed, who also was convicted of the killing and is serving a life sentence.
- Connor, Tracy (2015). "Oklahoma's Richard Glossip is Nun's 7th 'Dead Man Walking'". Storyline > Lethal Injection. NBC News. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
Prejean, who runs the Ministry Against the Death Penalty out of Louisiana, traveled to Oklahoma to prepare for what was looking more inevitable as the hours passed, especially after Gov. Mary Fallin refused to delay his execution.
- "Glossip v. Gross". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Ford, Matt. "Oklahoma Halts Execution of Richard Glossip". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Walker, Lauren. "Oklahoma Attorney General Requests Three Indefinite Stays of Execution". Newsweek. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- "Wrong drug used for January execution, state records show". NewsOK.com. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
- "Latest: AG's letter contradicts inmates autopsy report :: WRAL.com". WRAL.com. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
- "Governor's legal counsel resigns four months after testifying before grand jury". NewsOK.com. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
- Liliana Segura & Jordan Smith, What Happened in Room 102, The Intercept (July 9, 2015).
- Glossip v. Oklahoma, 29 P.3d 597, 2001 O.K. C.R. 21 (Okla. Crim. App. 2001).
- Glossip v. Oklahoma, 157 P.3d 143, 2007 O.K. C.R. 12 (Okla. Crim. App. 2007).
- Group, Sinclair Broadcast. "Glossip legal team releases new information about Justin Sneed". KOKH. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Eckholm, Erik (2015-09-11). "Oklahoma Inmate the Focus of Renewed Attention as Execution Date Nears". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
- Cross, Phil. "New questions about destroyed evidence could put Glossip case back in federal court". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- "Talking to an Attorney for the Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Who Just Avoided Execution | VICE | United States". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- "Glossip's Lawyers File New Documents To Court". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- Cross, Phil. "Glossip attorneys file documents alleging the State is intimidating witnesses". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- "AG's office calls witnesses' claims 'inherently suspect'". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- Cross, Phil. "Court denies Richard Glossip appeal, Wednesday execution to go forward". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Divided Oklahoma Court Refuses To Halt Richard Glossip's Execution". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- Gitau, Beatrice. "Richard Glossip denied stay of execution: Will Supreme Court intervene?". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Glossip In Last-Minute Appeal Over Execution". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "Pope Francis and Sir Richard Branson appeal for Oklahoma inmate's life". The Guardian. September 30, 2015.
- Ford, Matt. "Oklahoma Halts Execution of Richard Glossip". Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- "Oklahoma governor grants last-minute stay of execution to Richard Glossip". Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- "Timeline of events in Richard Glossip's case". www.okcfox.com. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
- McCann, Erin. "Oklahoma governor stays execution of Richard Glossip amid drug concerns". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- Cole-frowe, Carol; Fernandez, Manny (2015-09-30). "Oklahoma Governor Grants Richard Glossip a Stay of Execution". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- Nuttle, Matthew. "AG Requests Indefinite Stay Of All Executions In Oklahoma". Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- City, Associated Press in Oklahoma. "Oklahoma appeals court agrees to indefinitely halt state's executions". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
- "Oklahoma governor hires outside attorney amid Glossip execution drug inquiry". NewsOK.com. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
- "Latest: AG's Letter Contradicts Inmates Autopsy Report". ABC News. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
- "All Oklahoma executions are on hold until at least 2016". NewsOK.com. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
- "Killing Richard Glossip | Watch Full Episodes & More! - Investigation Discovery". www.investigationdiscovery.com. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
- Oklahoma Department of Corrections - Death Row - Scheduled Executions (accessed September 16, 2015)