Crime /

Oklahoma Legislator Vows to End Death Penalty If State Kills Death Row Inmate Amid New Evidence

Investigation shows there exists no physical forensic evidence or credible corroborating testimony linking Inmate to the crime


Republican Representative Kevin McDugle, an open supporter of the death penalty, has now said he will work to end it if his state proceeds with the execution of Richard Glossup.

Glossip, a 59-year-old Oklahoma resident, was sentenced to death after being convicted for ordering the killing of Barry Van Treese, the owner of a motel where Glossip worked. 

Prosecutors acknowledged another motel employee, Justin Sneed, actually killed Van Treese with a baseball bat, but they told jurors he did so in a murder-for-hire plot masterminded by Glossip, according to CNN.

Sneed is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The case was thrust into the spotlight again after Attorney General John O’Connor asked a court to set execution dates for more than a dozen death row inmates, including Glossip.

The Governor of Oklahoma and the Pardon and Parole Board were asked by a bipartisan group of more than 30 legislators to conduct an investigation into the case in June 2021. After the Board declined, those state legislators asked global law firm Reed Smith to conduct an independent investigation last February.

New facts have emerged after a team of lawyers at Reed Smith released a 343-page report raising significant concerns about the case and concluding Glossip is innocent.

“Considering the facts we uncovered, and that there exists no physical forensic evidence or credible corroborating testimony linking Glossip to the crime, our conclusion is that no reasonable juror hearing the complete record would have convicted Richard Glossip of first-degree murder,” said Perry, a member of the investigative team and the firm’s global director of pro bono and community service.

Reed Smith assembled a team of more than 30 lawyers, three investigators and two paralegals, devoted more than 3,000 hours, contacted 72 witnesses, and reviewed more than 12,000 documents totaling 146,168 pages, according to a statement from the firm.

“The investigative report confirmed in my mind that we do have an innocent man on death row,” Rep. McDugle said. “In my opinion, this entire case against Richard Glossip was manipulated by the detective in charge, and that Richard Glossip has now been behind bars because of the gross misconduct of the DA’s office and the investigation.”

Investigators obtained new documents and spoke to witnesses who were never interviewed by police.

The investigation confirmed that a 28-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department was asked by the District Attorney’s Office to destroy a box of evidence containing 10 items. The evidence destruction was deliberate and in violation of a long-standing agreement between police and the District Attorney’s Office that evidence in a capital murder case is never to be destroyed, according to the report.

Other evidence was lost as well, including surveillance video from a nearby gas station from the night of the murder, the victim’s vehicle he was driving the night of the murder, and cash with a value of $23,100 found in the victim’s trunk.

The report concluded there was “intentional contamination by the lead homicide detectives of Sneed’s interrogation, that appears to have signaled to Sneed to implicate Glossip as involved and the mastermind of the murder, rather than to gather information from Sneed of what happened regardless of whether or not it fit a particular hypothesis.”

Investigators also determined “Financial Records that refute the claims of embezzlement and call into question any impending termination of Glossip, the purported motive for murder.”

Reed Smith found that the new facts and information gleaned from their investigation directly undermines the State’s theory of the case and reliability of the murder conviction.

“We need to right this wrong by allowing this new evidence to be heard in criminal appeals court,” Rep. McDugle said. “If the jury had seen the evidence that this investigation uncovered, Richard Glossip would have been set free 24 years ago.”

McDugle has requested the Attorney General to consider the new evidence that has emerged.

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