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Oklahoma Attorney General orders independent counsel to review Richard Glossip death penalty case

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

After successfully pushing back the execution dates of several death row inmates earlier this week, Attorney General Gentner Drummond is also ordering a new review of one inmate’s case.

Drummond has ordered an independent council to conduct a review of death row inmate Richard Glossip’s murder conviction and death sentence.

“As my office will represent the State at the clemency hearing, it is my responsibility to ensure that we are appropriately responding to all evidence that has been presented through Mr. Glossip’s conviction and incarceration,” Drummond said in a written statement.

Former prosecutor Rex Duncan will review the investigation, trial, sentencing, and appeals processes that have happened since Glossip was sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of motel owner Barry Van Treese.

An investigative report by law firm Reed Smith found letters suggesting Justin Sneed, the man who carried out the murder of Van Treese, wanted to recant his statement that Glossip had paid him to commit the crime.

Glossip is currently scheduled to be executed on May 18.

"We are thankful to Attorney General Drummond for his wise decision to appoint an independent counsel to conduct a comprehensive review of Richard Glossip’s case," Glossip's attorney Don Knight said in a written statement. "From the beginning of our work on this case, all we have asked for is a fair review of all the evidence."

Glossip has been on death row for more than two decades. His supporters claim he was condemned largely by bad police work, ineffective defense attorneys, false testimony from the actual murderer and dishonest prosecutors.

His execution has been delayed five times, three times in 2015 by former Gov. Mary Fallin, once last year by Gov. Kevin Stitt and most recently by a criminal appeals judge following a request by Drummond's office.

Hannah France is a reporter and producer for KGOU.
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