Attorneys for condemned inmate Richard Glossip are continuing their fight to stop his date with the death chamber, saying state officials are intimidating witnesses and have illegally set his execution date for Sept. 30 after issuing a stay.
Glossip, 52, was sentenced to die for the 1997 murder of motel owner Barry Van Treese in Oklahoma County. A jury recommended the death penalty for Glossip after prosecutors made a case that he orchestrated the killing, paying someone else to carry it out.
His accomplice, Justin Sneed, received a life-without-parole sentence for testifying against Glossip, even though he was the one who beat Van Treese to death with a baseball bat. Glossip’s attorneys have alleged that Sneed framed their client to save himself, an allegation that Sneed has repeatedly denied.
Sneed spoke in depth about recent allegations in an exclusive interview with The Frontier at the prison where he is serving his life sentence.
Wednesday’s filing by Glossip’s attorneys, a “Notice of State Efforts to Oppose Innocence Witnesses and Request to Protect Innocence Witnesses,” alleges that Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater arrested Michael Scott, the inmate who claims he overheard Sneed saying he framed Glossip while the two were incarcerated at Joseph Harp Correctional Center in 2006.
The document alleges Prater had Scott arrested for unpaid court fees so that he would be forced to speak to Prater and an investigator.
Prater responded to the allegations Wednesday: “Very soon it will be clear to everyone that everything these defense lawyers and their witnesses are saying are lies.”
The filing by Glossip’s attorneys also accuses an “unknown person” of leaking confidential Department of Corrections information about Scott to a “friendly member of the press.”
The Oklahoman reported Sunday that DOC documents showed Scott admitted to being “a habitual liar.” The story did not disclose how that document was obtained.
But Scott’s consolidated record card, obtained by The Frontier through an Open Records Act request, also shows the inmate was disciplined in 2006 for “lying to staff” among other minor incidents of disruptive behavior. His record card shows that he was incarcerated for one year at Joseph Harp, where Sneed has served time since 1999.
The Frontier requested record cards for Scott, Sneed and Glossip. Scott’s shows he transferred to segregated housing units several times. Sneed’s shows he was disciplined twice for battery, once in 2003 and again in 2007. Glossip has no disciplinary actions on his record.
Wednesday’s filing by Glossip’s attorneys asks the court to assist in “ensuring that existing innocence witnesses are not intimidated by the state and that additional innocence witnesses not be suppressed and/or intimidated from coming forward by the state.”
The document alleges that another inmate was also threatened with arrest by state officials, because he claims he was locked up with Sneed in 1997 in the Oklahoma County jail and never heard Sneed mention Glossip’s role in the crime.
Earlier this week, Glossip’s attorneys filed a motion stating that the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set the Sept. 30 execution date in violation of state statutes, saying execution dates can only be set after a stay is dissolved and must be set for 30 to 60 days later.
Also on Wednesday, in a separate court case related to a challenge by Oklahoma death row inmates (including Glossip) against the state’s plans to use midazolam in their executions, attorneys withdrew a motion for an injunction, saying they could not prove alternative drugs were available in Oklahoma.
Midazolam, used as a sedative by Oklahoma and other states as part of the lethal injection process, has been the subject of controversy after it was used in several botched executions, including the 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma and other states could continue using the drug because other preferred drugs were not available.
This story was written as part of The Next To Die, a multi-newsroom collaboration tracking upcoming executions. To see scheduled executions nationwide, please visit https://www.themarshallproject.org/next-to-die