Attorneys for Richard Glossip on Wednesday alleged the state of Oklahoma is attempting to intimidate existing and possible witnesses from coming forward in his defense case to question the credibility of the state’s star trial witness.
The notice, filed with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, claims Michael Scott, a man who spent time with Justin Sneed at Joseph Harp Correctional Center, was arrested in Rogers County so he would be forced to discuss with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater the claims he made in an affidavit that Glossip’s attorneys presented to the court.
Scott had declined to answer Prater’s phone calls because he wished to be “left alone by the authorities and the media in this high-profile case” despite being concerned about Glossip’s life.
Glossip is set to be executed Sept. 30, but his attorneys have also questioned the validity of that date on the claim it violates state law.
Scott said in the document that he overheard Sneed brag in prison about sending Glossip “up the river” for the January 1997 beating death of Barry Van Treese at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. He additionally claimed Sneed seemed “proud” about setting Glossip up to take the fall in Van Treese’s death but did not speak up until seeing a broadcast of the “Dr. Phil” show in August that discussed what the panelists, including Sister Helen Prejean and actress Susan Sarandon, saw as issues with his conviction.
Sneed, now 37, confessed to beating Van Treese, the motel’s owner, with a baseball bat in exchange for a life without parole sentence. Glossip was the resident manager, and Sneed lived at the motel in exchange for maintenance work.
Sneed testified against Glossip in his two trials in 1998 and 2004, both of which returned a death sentence.
Court records indicate Scott was charged in February with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors, and that he received a one-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty. Scott, according to the notice, has fallen about $200 short in payment of his fines after getting into a car accident and has not yet completed his community service.
However, the state had not issued a warrant for Scott’s arrest or request to revoke his sentence until Tuesday, which Glossip’s attorneys say was not coincidental. The notice describes how Claremore police officers surrounded Scott’s home to detain him and confronted him, which made him “scared to death,” and that Prater entered the Rogers County interrogation room to question him after he arrived at the station.
Jail records confirm Scott posted $5,000 bail about 7 p.m. Tuesday and has been released from custody following an arrest on the motion to revoke his sentence.
The notice additionally references a Saturday article in The Oklahoman that discussed Scott’s criminal background and suggested some of the information in that story was confidential, adding that the attorneys believe the state leaked information to the paper in possible violation of the law.
“When he tried to tell them that he did not want to answer these questions due to the fact that he (Scott) was not on trial, Prater and (investigator) Eastbrook told him that if he did not tell them about his personal life, then how could they decide if he was telling the truth about anything,” the notice says, referencing the interrogation about the affidavit.
Glossip’s attorneys went on to claim the questioning used by Prater seemed “designed to confuse,” trick or otherwise discredit his allegations against Sneed.
“Mr. Prater told Mr. Scott that he specifically called over to Rogers County and learned that Mr. Scott was on DA supervision and that he may be in violation,” the document states, adding that Prater told Scott he told Rogers County to issue an arrest warrant so he would be forced to talk to him and an investigator.
The notice also alleges Prater told authorities to issue a warrant for Joseph Tapley’s arrest after Tapley’s attorney told him he did not want to speak about the claims he made regarding Sneed’s credibility in an affidavit filed earlier this week. Court records confirm a warrant and motion to revoke were also filed in Tapley’s case Tuesday, which stemmed from a 2014 Oklahoma County drunken driving arrest, though jail records do not show he has been arrested.
He pleaded guilty in February of this year and received a one-year suspended sentence.
Tapley’s affidavit discussed Sneed’s methamphetamine addiction and said that while sharing a cell with him in the Oklahoma County Jail in 1997, Sneed never mentioned Glossip or anyone else was involved in Van Treese’s death.
Prater denied the claims in the document during a phone interview Wednesday evening.
“The time will come when it will be clear to everyone that everything that the defense lawyers and their witnesses are saying are lies,” he said.
Samantha Vicent 918-581-8321