Oklahoma set to execute man despite claims of innocence

AP News
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Posted: Sep 29, 2015 6:50 PM
Oklahoma set to execute man despite claims of innocence

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma death row inmate is scheduled to be executed Wednesday for his role in a 1997 killing despite his claim of innocence and a last-minute scramble by his attorneys to have a hearing on new evidence they say proves a co-defendant acted alone.

Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, Richard Glossip is set to receive a lethal injection at 3 p.m. CDT at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was convicted of ordering the beating death of an Oklahoma City motel owner. But Glossip claims he was framed by the actual killer, Justin Sneed, who is serving a life sentence and was the state's key witness against Glossip in two separate trials.

Just hours before Glossip was originally to be put to death on Sept. 16, the state's highest criminal court granted a two-week reprieve to review his claims of new evidence in the case, including another inmate's assertion that he overheard Sneed admit to framing Glossip.

But in a 3-2 decision earlier this week, the same court denied Glossip's request for an evidentiary hearing and emergency stay of execution, paving the way for his execution to proceed. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals' majority wrote that the new evidence simply expands on theories raised in his original appeals.

On Tuesday, Glossip's attorneys made a last-ditch request to both the U.S. Supreme Court and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to issue a stay of execution.

"Recently discovered evidence demonstrates substantial doubt about Sneed's credibility," his attorneys wrote in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fallin has repeatedly denied Glossip's request for a 60-day stay of execution and said in a statement Tuesday she has no plans to stop the punishment.

"The state of Oklahoma has gone to extraordinary lengths to guarantee that Richard Glossip is treated fairly and that the claims made by him and his attorneys are taken seriously," Fallin said. "He has now had multiple trials, seventeen years of appeals, and three stays of his execution. Over and over again, courts have rejected his arguments and the information he has presented to support them."

Unless a court halts the execution, it will be the first in Oklahoma since the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the state's three-drug lethal injection formula that includes the sedative midazolam. Glossip and other death row inmates had argued that the sedative did not adequately render an inmate unconscious before the second and third drugs were administered.

Oklahoma first used the drug last year in the execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney, moaned and clenched his teeth for several minutes before prison officials tried to halt the process. He died 43 minutes after it was first injected.

The state then increased by five times the amount of midazolam it uses and executed Charles Warner in January. He complained of a burning sensation but showed no other obvious signs of physical distress.

Oklahoma has two more executions planned in upcoming weeks. Benjamin Cole is set to be executed on Oct. 7 for the 2002 killing of his 9-month-old daughter, and John Grant is scheduled to die on Oct. 28 for the 1998 stabbing death of a prison worker at the Dick Connor Correctional Center in Hominy.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy .