Supreme Court Blocks Richard Glossip’s Execution

Justices suspend May 18 date so they can consider the Oklahoma case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2023 1:57 PM CDT
Supreme Court Blocks Richard Glossip’s Execution
This photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Richard Glossip on Feb. 19, 2021.   (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP, File)

The Supreme Court on Friday blocked Oklahoma from executing death row inmate Richard Glossip after the state's attorney general agreed Glossip's life should be spared. Glossip had been scheduled to be put to death on May 18 despite statements by new Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond that he did not receive a fair trial, per the AP. An Oklahoma appeals court subsequently 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 while it reviews the case. Justice Neil Gorsuch took no part in the case, presumably because he dealt with it earlier as an appeals court judge. Glossip, now 60, was convicted of the 1997 murder-for-hire killing of his boss, motel owner Barry Van Treese, at two separate trials based largely on the testimony of Justin Sneed, a co-defendant in the case, per the AP. Sneed admitted robbing and killing Van Treese, but claims he only did so after Glossip agreed to pay him $10,000. Sneed received a sentence of life in prison. However, he lied to the jury about his psychiatric treatment and reasons for taking the mood-stabilizing drug lithium.

Glossip has been scheduled to be executed three times, only to be spared shortly before the sentence was set to be carried out. He was only hours from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had received the wrong lethal drug, a mix-up that helped prompt a nearly seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma. Glossip’s case attracted international attention after actress Susan Sarandon—who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean in in her fight to save a man on Louisiana’s death row in the 1995 movie Dead Man Walking—took up his cause. His case also was featured in a 2017 documentary film titled Killing Richard Glossip. (More Richard Glossip stories.)

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