October 1, 2015
Richard Glossip Gets Stay: Officials Had Wrong Ingredient For Lethal Cocktail

Death row inmate Richard Glossip was due to die on Wednesday night, but a last-second call extended his life by about a month -- although at first, Richard had no clue why. "I'm just standing there in just my boxers," said Glossip. "They wouldn't tell me anything. Finally someone came up and said I got a stay."

The decision to halt Richard Glossip's execution had nothing to do with the protests raging to save his life or the outpouring of support by actress Susan Sarandon. The Associated Press reports that prison officials realized that the fatal injection cocktail needed to kill Richard was lacking a key ingredient. There are three drugs that make up the lethal injection cocktail that Oklahoma officials intended to use on Glossip. One of those ingredients is a substance called potassium chloride.

The AP said that officials received potassium acetate instead.

Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, told the press that the Department of Corrections received the drugs on the day of the execution. Somehow, a double-check didn't occur until moments before the process of executing Richard Glossip was due to begin. It's a startling error that Glossip's attorney, Dale Baich, pointed to as proof that Oklahoma's death penalty protocols are extremely suspect.
"Oklahoma has had months to prepare for this execution, and today's events only highlight how more transparency and public oversight in executions is sorely needed."
When officials realized there was a mix-up, a call was made to Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office as to what should be done. They were told that the state guidelines regarding the method of prisoner execution had to be followed. As such, there was no alternative but to grant the convicted death row inmate a stay of execution. Word was sent to Fallin, who immediately granted the request to hold off executing Richard Glossip.

CNN notes that Fallin's actions seemingly contradict her previous claims that stopping Richard Glossip's execution was "up to the courts" and "completely out of her hands." It's possible the AG's statement about following the law as dictated by the Supreme Court is what made Fallin feel comfortable enough to intervene in this instance.

Pruitt spokesman Aaron Cooper said that the mix-up and resulting delay were "extremely frustrating" to the attorney general. He also said it was unclear why the supplier, whose identity is protected by law, did not send the correct supplies.

Richard Glossip is on death row after being convicted twice for his role in the 1997 murder of motel owner Barry Van Treese, his then-employer. Tulsa World said that the motel's maintenance worker, Justin Sneed, brutally beat Van Treese to death with a baseball bat. Sneed later testified he did so at the urging of Richard Glossip, who he claimed paid him $10,000 to carry out the murder.

Despite Justin being the one most directly responsible for Barry's death, he was spared capital punishment after agreeing to testify against Richard. Sneed is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Richard Glossip was convicted and condemned to death on August 17, 1998. That conviction was successfully overturned, but Glossip was re-convicted by a second jury on August 17, 2004.

The Van Treese's family reportedly feels no sympathy for the convicted killer's ongoing plight, having spent nearly twenty years awaiting his demise. Kenneth Van Treese, the victim's brother, spoke out at a clemency hearing last year.

"I will speak for my brother: It hurts like hell to have your head bashed in with a baseball bat. Do not feel sorry for the bastard who took my life."
CNN reports that Richard Glossip's execution was rescheduled for November 6. Oklahoma officials are confident they'll have the lethal injection cocktail sorted out by then.

[Image Credit: Photo by Larry French / Getty Images for MoveOn.org]