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Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip has execution halted for fourth time

Richard E. Glossip, photo from February 2021
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt granted a 60-day stay of execution for death row inmate Richard Glossip on Tuesday, as the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reviews a request for a new hearing.

Stitt's order states, "This stay is granted to allow time for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to address a pending legal proceeding."

The governor's action comes nearly two weeks after more than 60 state legislators—Republicans and Democrats—called for a new evidentiary hearing in Glossip's case. They say newly uncovered evidence could prove he is innocent.

Glossip was convicted of hiring an accomplice to murder his boss—motel owner Barry Van Treese—in 1997. His supporters claim he was condemned largely by bad police work, ineffective defense attorneys, false testimony from the actual murderer and dishonest prosecutors.

Law firm Reed Smith released a supplemental report last week that claims a handwritten note from 2007 shows Justin Sneed, the man who admitted to killing Van Treese, wanted to recant his statement claiming Glossip hired him to carry out the murder. Sneed's attorney then responded to his note, saying his testimony implicating Glossip is the reason he was not given the death penalty.

Oklahoma Rep. Kevin McDugle has been fighting for Glossip’s innocence for years, and is one of the state lawmakers calling for the new hearing. The Broken Arrow Republican recently spoke with NPR's Weekend Edition and said his view on the death penalty will change if Glossip is executed.

"I am good with the death penalty as long as we have a pure process all the way through, and we can say for sure, for certain, that we're executing guilty people," said McDugle. "But if we have any ability for someone to get through there and be an innocent person, then I will fight against the death penalty here."

As a result of Tuesday's stay, both Glossip's scheduled execution on Sept. 22 and clemency hearing before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Aug. 23 will be delayed.

This is the fourth time Glossip's execution has been delayed, with the previous three times coming in 2015. In September of that year, then-Gov. Mary Fallin issued a last-minute stay when it was discovered the Department of Corrections received an incorrect shipment of drugs required in the state's execution protocol. Oklahoma then put executions on hold for seven years.

Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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