WASHINGTON, DC – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has granted another temporary reprieve to death row inmate Richard Glossip, delaying his scheduled December 8 execution until next February, while an appeals court considers his claims of innocence.
After the Nov. 3 announcement, Sister Helen Prejean, Sister of St. Joseph and longtime advocate against the death penalty, tweeted that she was grateful to the governor “for his measured action and to the 62 Oklahoma lawmakers supporting Richard’s request for evidence”. hearing.”
Republican State Rep. Kevin McDugle led the bipartisan group of state lawmakers that signed a request for a rehearing of Glossip.
Glossip, a 59-year-old former motel manager, has been on death row for more than 25 years, convicted of the 1997 murder of his boss, Barry Alan Van Treese, at Oklahoma City’s Best Budget Inn.
Last summer, a report from a Houston law firm backed up Glossip’s claims of innocence, something defenders, including Prejean, have long pointed out.
The report drew attention to Justin Sneed, the motel’s handyman, who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to beating Van Treese to death with a baseball bat in 1997 at the ‘hotel. Sneed testified that he killed Van Treese after Glossip, the motel manager, promised to pay him $10,000.
After the report’s release, Glossip applied to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for a new evidentiary hearing based on the report’s concerns about loss or destruction of evidence and leading questions a detective asked. to Sneed to implicate Glossip in the murder.
“The newly uncovered evidence shows a concerted effort by the state to destroy and hide evidence favorable to Rich, even to this day, and, most shockingly, to fabricate the testimony they needed to convict him,” the statement said. Glossip’s lawyer, Don Knight. , in a report.
He added that there is now “overwhelming support” for what the law firm concluded after its investigation: “that no reasonable juror who heard all the evidence would find (Glossip) guilty.”
Prejean visited Glossip in prison and encouraged people to write to him there. On her birthday last year, she tweeted: “Richard is innocent and could use your support.”
Glossip has already obtained three stays of execution.
After the report was released this summer, Prejean retweeted statements from Glossip’s lawyers pointing out the injustice of his sentence. She also retweeted the remark of McDugle, the state senator, who said: “If we put Richard Glossip to death, I will fight in this state to abolish the death penalty, simply because the process is not not pure.
Glossip not only defended his own case, he was also the lead plaintiff in a failed federal lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s use of lethal injections.
Catholic leaders expressed disappointment with a federal judge’s ruling this summer that the state’s three-drug lethal injection method was constitutional.
The decision allows the state to move forward with the executions of more than two dozen death row inmates who were plaintiffs in a case arguing against lethal injection drugs and seeking an alternate form of execution.
Six executions are scheduled in the United States in November.
Catholic Mobilizing Network, the national Catholic organization working for the abolition of the death penalty, issued a statement citing the “unusual increase in scheduled executions” in five states in one month.
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, the group’s executive director, said the upcoming executions “should be of great concern to all Catholics”, especially after celebrating Honor Life Month in October and hearing Pope Francis in September make abolition of the death penalty his official prayer intention for the month.
“These calls to honor the sanctity of human life are strongly juxtaposed with the possible increase in executions in November,” she said.
If the executions all go ahead, she said it would “go against our church’s teachings on the inviolable dignity of the person, not to mention the decades-long national trend toward lowering the death penalty.”
She noted that the United States had not executed that many people in a month since January 2015. The five states scheduled for executions in November are Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and India. Alabama.
“Among these, Arizona and Texas have Catholic governors who profess pro-life values, while allowing the practice of capital punishment,” Vaillancourt Murphy added.