Oklahoma Attorney General Drummond hires independent counsel to review Richard Glossip case

Death row inmate Richard Glossip is getting a new review of his innocence claim, this time from an independent counsel hired by the state’s new attorney general.

“Circumstances surrounding this case necessitate a thorough review,” Attorney General Gentner Drummond said in a news release Thursday. “While I am confident in our judicial system, that does not allow me to ignore evidence.”

Drummond said a former prosecutor and state lawmaker, Rex Duncan, will review all aspects of the investigation, trial, sentencing and appeals process.

The announcement comes two days after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals pushed back Glossip’s execution date from Feb. 16 to May 18.

The court also gave six other inmates new execution dates at the AG’s request.

Glossip has become the most high-profile of the state’s 39 death row inmates. He has the support of actress Susan Sarandon and dozens of state legislators. He claims he was framed.

An international law firm, Reed Smith, has already reviewed Glossip’s innocence claim at the request of legislators.

Glossip, 59, is facing execution for the murder of his boss, Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. The Court of Criminal Appeals in November rejected two new challenges to his conviction.

His boss was found beaten to death in Room 102 of his motel, the Best Budget Inn, on Jan. 7, 1997. Van Treese was 54 and lived in Lawton.

A motel maintenance man, Justin Sneed, confessed to killing Van Treese with a baseball bat. He said Glossip pressured him into doing it and offered him $10,000 as payment. He testified against Glossip at two trials.

Glossip’s attorneys claim Sneed actually killed the motel owner during a botched robbery for drug money. They claim he framed Glossip to avoid getting the death penalty himself. They claim Sneed, a meth addict, made admissions in jail and later in prison about framing Glossip and also has talked of recanting his testimony.

Drummond said the review will help ensure “that justice is served, both to the Van Treese family and the accused.” He said it was necessary since his assistants will represent the state at Glossip’s clemency hearing before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

“It is my responsibility to ensure that we are appropriately responding to all evidence that has been presented through Mr. Glossip’s conviction and incarceration,” Drummond said.

An attorney for Glossip thanked Drummond for his “wise decision” and pledged to fully cooperate with Duncan.

“The new evidence we have uncovered since 2015 shows conclusively, as the first independent investigation by Reed Smith found, that no reasonable juror who viewed all the evidence would find Mr. Glossip guilty of murder for hire,” attorney Don Knight said.

“We are confident that this new investigation will reach the same conclusion. Richard Glossip is innocent of this crime.”

Duncan was district attorney of Osage and Pawnee counties from 2011 to 2019. He was in the state House of Representatives before that for six years.

The last attorney general, John O’Connor, had refused to agree to having a judge review Glossip’s claims of new evidence. O’Connor praised the Court of Criminal Appeals in November when it rejected Glossip’s latest challenges.

O’Connor said: “The Court recognized, as we have said all along, ‘Far from making a claim of factual innocence, Glossip actually raises a theory of a defense’ considered by the Court in prior appeals or applications. The Court further found ‘no evidence that Sneed has ever sought to recant his testimony in any meaningful way’ and that his testimony was ‘corroborated by compelling evidence.’”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Glossip’s innocence claim to get new review at Oklahoma AG request

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