Richard Glossip case: Oklahoma Republican vows to end capital punishment if state kills death row inmate, citing new investigation

The investigation into Richard Glossip’s conviction showed his case was tainted by “inexcusable” conduct by prosecutors, investigators said on Wednesday.
“Our conclusion is that no reasonable jury, having heard the full record and uncovered facts detailed in this report, would have convicted Richard Glossip of capital murder,” said attorney Stan Perry of the law firm Reed Smith, who conducted the investigation.

The report was commissioned by a legislative committee of 34 state lawmakers — including 28 Republicans — expressing concern over the case against Glossip, a motel manager convicted of murder in the 1997 death of his boss, Barry Van Treese.

“The investigative report confirmed in my mind that we have an innocent man on death row,” Republican state Rep. and committee member Kevin McDugle said at a press conference Wednesday. .

Prosecutors in the Glossip case admitted that another motel employee, then 19-year-old Justin Sneed, a maintenance worker, physically killed Van Treese with a baseball bat, but they told jurors that Sneed had done so as part of a murder-for-hire scheme orchestrated by Glossip.

Sneed was sentenced to life in a plea deal for his testimony against Glossip, which the new report says was the only evidence linking Glossip to the crime.

“We actually know who the murderer is, and yet someone is on death row who is not the murderer,” Perry said.

The first trial against Glossip was dismissed due to ineffective defense counsel, and Reed Smith’s investigation revealed that prosecutors told police to destroy a box of evidence before the start of the second court case. “It’s inexcusable,” Perry said.

Rep. McDugle said Wednesday he was a supporter of the death penalty, but said the Glossip case shows weaknesses in the reliability of capital prosecutions.

“If we put Richard Glossip to death, I will fight in this state to abolish the death penalty simply because the process is not pure,” he said.

Glossip’s case received new attention last month when Attorney General John O’Connor asked a court to set execution dates for 25 death row inmates, including Glossip. The request came after a federal judge ruled against Glossip in a case arguing that Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol is unconstitutionally cruel.
The Court of Criminal Appeals has yet to respond to O’Connor’s request to issue the death warrants. Glossip had three previous execution dates, each only remaining for a few hours before he was put to death.

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office and Connie Smothermon, the first lead prosecutor in the Glossip case, did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment Wednesday. The new report says O’Connor’s office failed to respond to requests from independent investigators for access to records and evidence in the state’s possession.

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