OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Attorneys for Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip alleged Wednesday that prosecutors are trying to intimidate defense witnesses who could raise questions about the credibility of the man who implicated Glossip in a 1997 killing.
The attorneys filed a notice late Wednesday alleging that defense witness Michael Scott was arrested in northeast Oklahoma for a parole violation so that he could by questioned by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. Prater said the allegations were "lies."
Scott has said in an affidavit that convicted killer Justin Sneed bragged to him about framing Glossip, 52, for the slaying of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. Sneed was sentenced to life in prison for the killing after testifying against Glossip, who was just hours away from being executed last week when the punishment was halted.
The filing in Oklahoma County District Court said Scott was arrested Tuesday for failing to pay fines and complete community service after pleading guilty and being given a one-year suspended sentence earlier this year for driving while intoxicated and possession of a small amount of marijuana. The filing said that Scott, while in handcuffs at the Rogers County Sheriff's Office, was questioned by Prater and an Oklahoma County investigator.
Prater told Scott that he had learned Scott may be in violation of the terms of his suspended sentence and asked authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest, the notice alleges.
"Mr. Prater specifically told Mr. Scott that he ordered this action so that Scott would be forced to talk with Prater and his investigator," the notice says.
Prater, whose office prosecuted Glossip before Prater was elected, offered a one-sentence statement refuting the attorneys' claims.
"Very soon it will be clear that the allegations made by defense lawyers and their witnesses are lies," Prater said Wednesday night, while declining further comment.
A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The notice also alleges that an arrest warrant was issued for potential defense witness Joe Tapley after Tapley informed Prater that he did not wish to talk with the prosecutor.
Online court records show an arrest warrant has been issued to revoke Tapley's one-year suspended sentence for drunken driving.
The notice does not include detail about Tapley's potential testimony but says that "intimidating conduct ... by the State should be immediately stopped."
Glossip was scheduled for execution last week, but an Oklahoma court delayed it until Sept. 30 after his attorneys said they had new evidence.
His case garnered international attention after Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon, who played a nun in the movie "Dead Man Walking," took up his cause. The woman Sarandon portrayed in the movie, anti-death penalty advocate Sister Helen Prejean, has served as Glossip's spiritual adviser and frequently visited him in prison.
Earlier Wednesday, a federal judge canceled a scheduled Friday hearing on a separate part of Glossip's appeal.