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U.S. Supreme Court to hear Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip's appeal

Richard Glossip
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Richard Glossip

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the appeal of death row inmate Richard Glossip, who contends he was wrongly convicted of murder.

Glossip was twice sentenced to death for the 1997 murder-for-hire killing of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese.

Glossip, who worked for Van Treese as a motel manager of the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, was accused of hiring handyman Justin Sneed to kill Van Treese for $10,000.

Glossip’s attorneys allege prosecutors withheld evidence concerning Sneed’s mental health condition.

Sneed, who testified at trial that Glossip hired him to kill Van Treese, received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

“Richard Glossip’s innocence case is unlike anything the country has ever seen,” said Don Knight, his attorney. “The Oklahoma attorney general’s concession of error is historically unprecedented, as is the outpouring of support from 62 Oklahoma legislators, including at least 45 death penalty supporting Republican lawmakers.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond took the unusual step of advocating for Glossip at his clemency hearing, and he supported post-conviction relief for Glossip before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court.

When the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in April again denied relief, Glossip appealed.

The Pardon and Parole Board in April on a 2-2 vote denied clemency, with one member abstaining.

Derek Van Treese, the victim’s son, said his family continues to trust the justice system to perform its duties.

“Instead of focusing on the facts presented at trial, the two juries’ decisions to convict, and numerous denials within the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, it’s unfortunate that this cases has been latched onto by anti-death penalty groups, and that some within our state are using this as a platform for political gain,” Derek Van Treese said.

The outcome will affect every family weathering the process, he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments later this year.

Glossip’s execution remains on hold.

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

Barbara Hoberock is a senior reporter with Oklahoma Voice. She began her career in journalism in 1989 after graduating from Oklahoma State University. She began with the Claremore Daily Progress and then started working in 1990 for the Tulsa World. She has covered the statehouse since 1994 and served as Tulsa World Capitol Bureau chief. She covers statewide elected officials, the legislature, agencies, state issues, appellate courts and elections.
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