An Oklahoma appeals court has scheduled the execution date for death row inmate Richard Glossip while his defense rushes to mount a legal battle with newly uncovered evidence they say will prove his innocence in a 1997 murder case.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals scheduled Glossip’s execution for September 22 in an order filed Friday, marking the fourth time Glossip has been due for capital punishment in a case which has regularly been delayed by stay orders and other legal complications for years.
According to an application for a post-conviction relief filed Friday, Glossip referred to an independent report conducted by international law firm Reed Smith and released in June, saying a “sloppy and truncated” police investigation and destroyed evidence resulted in Glossip’s sentencing.
Glossip was convicted of plotting the murder of his then-boss, Barry Van Treese, in 1997 when he worked as a motel manager, but he argued he had nothing to do with the crime. While Glossip was found guilty of tasking Justin Sneed – then a 19-year-old maintenance worker – with the murder, Glossip alleges he was framed. Sneed received a life sentence in a plea deal for his testimony against Glossip, which the new report says was the only evidence tying Glossip to the crime.
Don Knight, Glossip’s attorney, said in a statement Friday the court should cancel the execution date until a judge can review the independent report supporting Glossip’s innocence. Knight told CNN the findings should help secure Glossip a hearing in which a judge could remand the case to an Oklahoma District Court.
“Richard Glossip has been through three tortuous execution dates already,” the statement reads. “It does not serve justice to set a fourth execution date for an innocent man before all this new evidence can be fully considered in a court of law.”
The report released in June drew calls from at least one Republican state legislator to end Oklahoma’s use of death sentencing if Glossip was put to death. Thirty-four state lawmakers, including 28 Republicans, commissioned the investigation after they voiced concerns about the case.
In the 120-page application filed Friday, Knight wrote the report should necessitate another hearing with new evidence it revealed including detailed accounts that indicated Glossip had no role in ordering Treese’s murder.
“Refusing to hear Mr. Glossip’s claims on the merits would cause a grave miscarriage of justice, both because the claims address in large part serious misconduct by state actors … and because the facts now known unequivocally demonstrate that Mr. Glossip is factually innocent,” the filing said.
According to the legal filing, the report on the case included statements from witnesses who attested a “botched robbery” – which was organized by Sneed and his girlfriend, not Glossip – led to the murder. “Several” witnesses said they heard Sneed say he set up Glossip in the case, according to the appeal filing.
In an interview with CNN affiliate KFOR, Glossip maintained his innocence from his cell in M, still hoping to once more avoid impending execution.
“I want people to know that I didn’t kill this man, I didn’t participate, I didn’t plan,” he said.