An Innocent Man on Death Row in Oklahoma: Tell the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to Save Richard Glossip’s Life
The Honorable Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board
Oklahoma is Preparing to Execute an Innocent Man While the Confessed Murderer Serves Life and the Accomplice Is Still At Large.
It’s one of the most controversial cases in America: Richard Glossip has been on Oklahoma’s death row for 24 years, even though everyone agrees another man, Justin Sneed, actually committed the murder. Glossip’s conviction was based primarily on statements made by Justin Sneed. But the evidence shows the killing was a botched robbery carried out by Sneed and a female accomplice, and a new investigation has revealed shocking errors in the investigation and trial. Now, while Sneed serves a life sentence, Glossip’s execution is set for December 8, 2022.
Sign now to tell the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to support a new hearing in the Richard Glossip case.
Police and prosecutors believe Justin Sneed and an accomplice murdered Barry Van Treese in 1997. Sneed confessed to the crime, but it is increasingly evident police arrested the wrong accomplice. When detectives interrogated Sneed, they asked him to name his accomplice so Sneed would not “hang alone,” but Sneed never gave them a name. Instead, the police fed Sneed a name—Richard Glossip.
Sneed went along with their suggestion to avoid the death penalty and keep his real accomplice, most likely his girlfriend, off detectives’ radar. Once Sneed gave detectives the version of the story they were looking for, they stopped working the case, less than two weeks after the murder. Their brief investigation was not credible.
Now, at the request of 35 Oklahoma state lawmakers, including 29 Republicans, a pro bono team of more than 30 attorneys from Reed Smith, a respected national litigation firm, spent over 3,000 hours conducting a rigorous independent investigation of Richard Glossip’s conviction and uncovered new evidence of his innocence– as well as serious problems with the police investigation and handling of evidence.
Their findings make clear a new hearing must be called before the state executes Mr. Glossip.
Findings from the Reed Smith investigation show that “the 2004 trial and all of its failures can neither be relied on to support a murder for hire conviction nor as a basis for the government to take the life of Richard E. Glossip.”
At the request of Oklahoma State Sen. Blake Stephens (R), Sen. David Bullard (R), Rep. Kevin McDugle (R), Rep. JJ Humphrey (R), and Rep. Garry Mize (R), Reed Smith assembled a pro bono team of over 30 attorneys, three investigators and two paralegals who spent more than 3,000 hours combined on this investigation. The team reviewed over 146,000 pages in 12,234 separate documents; contacted 72 police and civilian witnesses, 11 jurors, and two experts; interviewed 37 witnesses (police and civilian) and seven jurors, two experts, several members of the media with knowledge of the case; and conducted a 3.5-hour interview of Richard Glossip in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Reed Smith has offered new evidence to contradict, one by one, the findings presented to the jury, evidence that jurors said they “wish they’d seen” and that almost certainly would have resulted in a not-guilty vote.
That evidence includes:
The jury did not see the videotaped interrogation of Justin Sneed, which clearly shows the detectives contaminating that interrogation by mentioning Glossip’s name six times in twenty minutes and de facto procured Sneed’s implication of Glossip by laying out a rhetorical “connect-the-dots'' blueprint by which Sneed could confess, point a finger at Glossip, and save his own life. “Since Sneed’s testimony was the sole evidence that Glossip planned the murder and hired Sneed to carry it out, Glossip’s conviction appears to be significantly tainted.”
The jury never saw evidence of Justin Sneed’s drug use, criminal and violent history, or testimony from witnesses describing his “meth rages.
The jury never saw or heard evidence that would have established that so-called witnesses for the prosecution like disgraced former law enforcement official Cliff Everhart lacked credibility altogether and indeed may have interfered with or impeded a proper police investigation, as well as perpetrated crimes related to the murder themselves.
The jury received incorrect jury instructions that allowed them to set aside as optional the need to find corroborating evidence to find Richard Glossip guilty. One juror said “the jury instructions were very persuasive.”
The jury never saw significant evidence of Sneed’s motives for conducting this assault on his own – that he needed money - including to support his illegal drug habit, that he knew Mr. Van Treese carried cash and/or kept cash in his car, and that he was upset with Mr. Van Treese for not paying him for his work at the motel and was experiencing the after-effects of taking methamphetamines right before the crime.
According to the Reed Smith report, “If the jury had been presented with the full picture of Sneed’s true character, we believe they would have had no problem concluding he was capable of committing this crime on his own, whether it was a robbery gone bad or an intentional killing.”
Multiple witnesses jailed with Sneed who heard Sneed spill the truth about the murder: It was a robbery for drug money, planned and carried out by Sneed and his girlfriend, and Richard Glossip had nothing to do with it.
Associates of Sneed and his girlfriend who gave sworn affidavits with new evidence about Sneed's raging drug addiction — a clear motive for a robbery-turned-murder.
Forensic evidence, including fingerprints from the crime scene that were not Sneed’s, Glossip’s, or the victim’s, that have never been searched through databases. There is ample evidence a woman was in the room with Sneed during the murder, which police have ignored.
Medical and forensic experts who found that many of the facts the District Attorney had alleged about the crime and the motive simply were not true.
Executing Richard Glossip in the face of the new evidence from the independent Reed Smith investigation is unjust and immoral. Glossip’s attorneys are not asking that he be freed, but only that he receive a new hearing. Otherwise, Oklahoma risks killing a man for a crime he did not commit.
Glossip’s supporters are respectfully calling on the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to grant clemency. Even supporters of the death penalty agree no one wants to see an innocent man killed for a crime he did not commit. The State of Oklahoma cannot afford to get this wrong.
The Honorable Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board
From: [Your Name]
I respectfully call on you to join the application for a new hearing in the Richard Glossip case. The independent Reed Smith investigation has uncovered new evidence of innocence no jury has seen, casting serious doubt on the conviction of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip. This is one of the most controversial capital cases in America and the State of Oklahoma must be certain it is not executing an innocent man.
Glossip has been on death row for 24 years, even though everyone agrees that another man, Justin Sneed, actually committed the murder of Barry Van Treese and the evidence increasingly shows the killing was a botched robbery carried out by Sneed and a female accomplice, and Richard Glossip wasn’t involved. A new hearing must be called to ensure a just result.
Thank you very much for your consideration.