Today, the state of Oklahoma plans to administer a lethal injection to Richard Glossip for his alleged role in the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese. Glossip has insisted that he was framed for the crime ever since it was perpetrated nearly two decades ago, and there’s compelling evidence that he may be telling the truth.
UPDATE (5:10 p.m.): Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued a last-minute stay on Glossip’s execution, citing questions about potassium acetate, one of its lethal injection drugs. Glossip’s execution is now scheduled for November 6.
Prosecutors do not allege that Glossip killed Van Treese, who owned the Oklahoma City Best Budget Inn where Glossip worked at the time. Justin Sneed, another Best Budget employee, admitted to killing his employer with a baseball bat in Room 102 of the inn, but claimed that Glossip paid him to do it.
Sneed is currently serving a life sentence in an Oklahoma prison, and two men who spent time with him there believe that he fabricated his allegations against Glossip. Joseph Tapley, who once shared a cell with Sneed, has said that he believes Sneed killed Van Treese on his own, for the money (Sneed admitted to taking $4,000 from the hotelier’s car after the killing); and Michael Scott, who had the cell across the hall, claims that Sneed openly bragged about framing Glossip in order to escape the death penalty himself.
In February, the Supreme Court postponed Glossip’s execution amid questions about Oklahoma’s lethal injection procedure. This afternoon, minutes before the scheduled execution, the Court declined an appeal from Glossip’s legal team to stay the execution so that a case might be made for his innocence. Only Justice Breyer dissented. Glossip’s attorneys also appealed to the Oklahoma Court of Appeals, which declined to rehear Glossip’s case, and to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who has previously stated that lawyers have “no credible evidence of Richard Glossip’s innocence.”
There has never been any evidence against me (physical or other) to connect me to any of (Mr. Sneed’s) accounts of what happened. I was convicted solely on the self serving testimony of (Justin Sneed) who is the sole reason I am here on death row.
A slew of high-profile figure have asked Governor Fallin to stay the execution. A MoveOn petition started by the Catholic nun and anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean and Susan Sarandon, who once portrayed Prejean onscreen, has nearly 250,000 signatures as of this writing, and Pope Francis pled for mercy for Glossip earlier this month.