Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate Richard Glossip’s 1997 capital murder conviction and return his case to a district court. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Glossip two weeks before he was scheduled to be killed.
“Despite the State’s extraordinary admission of error in Glossip’s trial, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) in April rejected the inmate’s application for post-conviction relief,” Drummond stated. “After careful consideration – including a thorough review by an independent counsel – the State came to the conclusion that …ensuring that justice is done in this case requires a retrial. The State therefore acted consistent with ‘[t]he public trust reposed in the law enforcement officers of the Government’ and ‘confess[ed] error’ in light of the State’s reasoned judgment that ‘a miscarriage of justice’ of the highest order ‘may result from [its] remaining silent.’”
Glossip was sentenced to death in 1997, convicted of engineering the murder of Barry Van Treese, the owner of an Oklahoma motel where Glossip worked. The actual killer was Justin Sneed, a motel maintenance worker who admitted to beating Van Treese to death with a baseball bat. But Sneed claimed Glossip was the mastermind of the murder and had offered him $10,000 to kill Van Treese. Sneed was sentenced to life without parole. Glossip has always maintained his innocence.
At the request of Oklahoma legislators, an investigation conducted by the law firm Reed Smith released a full report in June 2022, concluding that Glossip’s “2004 trial cannot be relied on to support a murder-for-hire conviction.” Reed Smith supplemented that report with five additional reports revealing more exculpatory evidence that had been withheld by the state, with a fifth supplemental report released in March.
The mounting evidence of Glossip’s innocence, combined with the support of a group of state legislators, many of them Republicans and death penalty supporters, led by Rep. Kevin McDugle, who commissioned Reed Smith’s investigation, helped to convince Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond that Glossip may have been wrongly convicted.