“He is innocent,” the attorney for Richard Glossip, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection in two days, told reporters Monday morning.
As time runs out for Glossip, whom the Supreme Court ruled in June could be executed with a controversial cocktail of drugs, his attorneys are asking Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) to delay his execution for 60 days as they gather new evidence. The defense has zeroed in on the questionable credibility of Justin Sneed, whose testimony that Glossip masterminded the murder of Bobby Van Treese comprises the foundation of the case against the death row inmate.
Sneed, a handyman at the hotel where the murder took place, cut a deal with prosecutors to testify that Glossip, his manager, had pressured him to beat the hotel owner to death. In exchange for his testimony, Sneed avoided a death sentence of his own and now lives in a medium security prison. Glossip has maintained his innocence since being convicted in 1997.
In the presser Monday morning, defense attorney Donald Knight said an inmate kept in a cell across from Sneed signed an affidavit recounting that he frequently heard the former handyman bragging about setting Glossip up to save his own life. The inmate also claimed Sneed also lied about other inmates in prison in order to get them in trouble.
Another affidavit by one of Sneed’s drug dealers asserts that Sneed was deeply addicted to meth and frequently broke into motel rooms to steal from people to support his habit. “I saw nothing to make me think that Justin Sneed was controlled by Richard Glossip,” the dealer wrote.
The attorneys also released a report from an expert on false confessions, who believes Sneed was manipulated and threatened in order to implicate Glossip. The expert’s report found that the investigators were the first to suggest to Sneed that Glossip was the mastermind and repeatedly told him that his boss was scapegoating him.
The defense recognizes that their new findings are not enough to stop the execution, which is why they are asking the governor for more time. Gathering strong new evidence before the clock runs out is a close-to-impossible task, as the homicide itself took place nearly two decades ago. Many potential witnesses have since died.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater called the press conference a “bullshit PR campaign” by death penalty abolitionists.