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Justices Delay Glossip Execution In 1997 Murder-For-Hire To Study Case

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked Oklahoma from executing Richard Glossip for his role in a 1997 murder-for-hire after the state’s attorney general agreed Glossip’s life should be spared. While it’s rare for the conservative-dominated court to put executions on hold, it’s more unusual for a prosecutor to side with the inmate, says the Associated Press. Glossip had been scheduled to die on May 18 despite statements by Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond that he did not receive a fair trial. An Oklahoma appeals court upheld Glossip’s conviction and the state’s pardon and parole board deadlocked in a vote to grant him clemency. The high court put the execution on hold indefinitely while it reviews the case.

“There is nothing more harrowing than the thought of executing a man who the state now admits has never received a fair trial,” said Glossip attorney Don Knight. “Our hope is that the court will ... vacate Mr. Glossip’s conviction once and for all.” Drummond, a Republican and the state’s top prosecutor, supported a reprieve for Glossip, telling the justices, “Glossip’s trial was unfair and unreliable.” Drummond does not believe Glossip is innocent of the murder-for-hire killing of Glossip’s former boss, Barry Van Treese, in 1997. Justin Sneed admitted robbing and killing Van Treese after Glossip promised to pay him $10,000. Sneed received a life sentence. Former Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater believes Glossip persuaded Sneed to kill Van Treese. “In light of Gentner Drummond’s position regarding the stay, I don’t feel like the Supreme Court had much of a choice,” Prater said. “But the truth will come out.” Glossip has been a few hours away from being executed three times. His last scheduled execution, in September 2015, was halted just moments before he was to be led to the death chamber when prison officials realized they had received the wrong lethal drug. That mix-up helped prompt a nearly seven-year moratorium on the Oklahoma death penalty.


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