In a case of truth sometimes being more dramatic than fiction, the Oklahoma execution of Richard Glossip has been brought to a screeching halt just hours before the twice-convicted murderer was to be hooked up to a lethal dose of execution cocktail.
Glossip’s attorneys were scrambling for a reason to halt the execution just hours before it was to be carried out on Wednesday, telling an appeals court they needed more time to review “new evidence” in the form of a purported claim from a fellow inmate of Glossip’s, who says he heard the other man convicted in the murder case say he did it by himself, reports the Associated Press.
Richard Glossip was first convicted for the murder of Oklahoma City motel owner, Barry Van Treese, in 1997. Glossip worked at the motel and allegedly directed co-worker, Justin Sneed, to beat Van Treese to death. Then, after Sneed had carried out the grisly deed, Glossip is accused of helping the killer cover up the crime.
During the trials that followed, Sneed’s testimony was a key component in Glossip’s convictions, those seeking to halt Glossip’s execution also citing subpar defensive representation and other concerning issues leading to Glossip being given the death penalty.
During his trial, Sneed admitted to killing Van Treese with a baseball bat, but was given a life sentence in exchange for his testimony against Glossip.
With his execution already halted once earlier this year, Glossip, 52, faced this latest scheduled execution at 3 p.m. Wednesday. But his defense apparently offered up evidence that raised the eyebrows of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals enough for them to delay the lethal injection.
The new evidence reportedly includes an official affidavit signed by the new inmate witness, Michael Scott, who says he overheard Sneed say that he “set Richard Glossip up, and that Richard Glossip didn’t do anything.”
The halt to Glossip’s execution is only temporary, however, “in order for this court to give fair consideration” to the new evidence, with Glossip’s new lethal injection appointment scheduled for September 30.
According to CNN, Sneed testified that Glossip hired him to kill Van Treese, helping to lead to Glossip’s murder conviction. But some called foul on Sneed’s testimony, particularly Sister Susan Prejean, who was played by Susan Sarandon in the film Dead Man Walking, Prejean pointing out that jurors were never allowed to hear evidence saying that Sneed told police contradictory stories about what surrounded the murder.
Susan Sarandon has stepped up beside Prejean in a frantic effort to help stop Glossip’s execution, which has included email blasts to MoveOn members, asking them to contact Oklahoma authorities in an effort to save Glossip’s life.
In a Glossip-supporting email blast by Sarandon via MoveOn two days ago titled, “Two days left: Oklahoma is about to execute an innocent man,” Sarandon says the “system has failed” Glossip while asking MoveOn members to chip in money for Glossip’s defense.
“The day after tomorrow, Oklahoma will execute Richard Glossip, an innocent man—unless we stop it. The situation is so dire that right now, at this very moment, Richard is in a cell right next to the death chamber… The system has failed a good man. But now, after years of totally inadequate legal representation, one of the best death penalty lawyers in the country is working on his case pro bono—and he’s uncovered new evidence that could prove Richard’s innocence… We just need more time. I’ve teamed up with MoveOn, because it’s going to take a groundswell of public outrage to force Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to issue a 60-day stay of execution, and no one can very quickly mobilize hundreds of thousands of people better than MoveOn… Will you help out with $3?”
According to prosecutors, Glossip had Sneed murder Van Treese because Glossip thought the Motel owner was going to fire him for stealing money from the business.
Evidence against Glossip includes allegedly covering up evidence, telling the motel maid not to clean the room where Van Treese’s murdered bloody body was, and saying that he’d seen Van Treese heading out to do some business when he’d already been killed.
[Image by Oklahoma Corrections and Joe Raedle / Getty Images]