Attorney for Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Claims New Evidence
Mike Seals - October 15, 2020 11:18 am
Attorney Don Knight, who represents death row inmate Richard Glossip, testified before the House Public Safety Committee during a hearing about the future of the death penalty in Oklahoma.
Glossip was convicted of ordering the beating death of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese in 1997 and was sentenced to die. Another man, Justin Sneed, admitted to robbing and beating Van Treese with a baseball bat, but said he did so only after Glossip promised to pay him $10,000. Sneed was sentenced to life in prison.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, whose office prosecuted Glossip before Prater took office, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about Knight’s comments. But Prater has said previously that he’s confident in Glossip’s guilt and that, if necessary, he would retry Glossip and seek the death penalty.
Oklahoma once had one of the nation’s busiest death chambers, but a moratorium on capital punishment has been in place since 2015 following three consecutive flawed executions. Glossip himself was just hours away from being executed in 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong lethal drug.
Although the state has revamped its execution protocols and obtained a new source of lethal drugs, Attorney General Mike Hunter told the committee that a challenge to the procedure in federal court is likely to continue at least into early 2021.
Of the 56 inmates currently on death row in Oklahoma, 31 have exhausted their appeals and are awaiting an execution date, said Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow.
Rep. Kevin McDugle, a Republican from Broken Arrow, requested Wednesday’s study because of concerns that Oklahoma’s laws could result in an innocent person being put to death in Oklahoma.
Among the statutory changes McDugle said he’s considering are that attorneys for death row inmates have access to all evidence and files in the case and that any newly discovered evidence in a case can be presented to a judge.