OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s top prosecutor and attorneys for death-row inmate Richard Glossip both asked a court on Monday to once again delay Glossip’s upcoming execution while his attorneys seek to have his conviction overturned.
Attorney General Gentner Drummond and one of Glossip’s attorneys, Warren Gotcher, filed a joint motion for a stay of execution with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. They ask that the execution, currently set for May 18, be delayed until at least August 2024 so that the court can consider a separate motion from Glossip’s attorneys for an evidentiary hearing they suggest could prove his innocence.
Shortly after Drummond took office in January, he made available to Glossip’s defense team a box of material that Drummond’s predecessor, John O’Connor, had not permitted them to view. O’Connor had designated the materials, consisting largely of prosecutor’s notes in the case, as “work product,” according to the filing.
Glossip’s defense attorneys maintain that evidence included in those notes point to his innocence and have asked the court for an evidentiary hearing and to reverse his conviction and sentence.
“Had these items from Box 8 been disclosed before trial as the state was constitutionally obligated to do, there is a reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have been different,” Glossip’s attorneys argue in their application for post-conviction relief.
Messages seeking comment from Glossip’s attorneys were not immediately returned Monday.
Drummond’s office has not taken a position on Glossip’s application for relief but agreed to the motion for a stay of execution. Drummond has also ordered an independent inquiry into Glossip’s case that has not yet been completed.
Among the evidence Glossip’s attorneys say should have been turned over to his defense are notes related to the mental health and drug use of Justin Sneed, who admitted robbing and killing motel owner Barry Van Treese but claims he did so only after Glossip agreed to pay him $10,000. Sneed, who received a sentence of life in prison, was a key witness in the case against Glossip.
Glossip’s attorneys suggest that other details from witness statements that conflicted with the state’s evidence also were never disclosed to them.
Glossip, now 60, has long maintained his innocence in the 1997 murder-for-hire killing. His case attracted international attention after actress Susan Sarandon — who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of death-penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean in her fight to save a man on Louisiana’s death row in the 1995 movie “Dead Man Walking” — took up his cause. Prejean herself has served as Glossip’s spiritual adviser and frequently visited him in prison.
An independent investigation conducted last year by Houston law firm Reed Smith raised new questions about Glossip’s guilt. The firm’s report did not find any definitive proof of Glossip’s innocence, but it raised concerns about lost or destroyed evidence and a detective’s leading questions to Sneed to implicate Glossip in the slaying.
Glossip has been scheduled for execution three separate times, only to be spared shortly before the sentence was set to be carried out. He was just hours from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had received the wrong lethal drug, a mix-up that helped prompt a nearly seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma.