The execution of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip, whose capital conviction the state attorney general has declared he can no longer uphold, was stayed by the United States Supreme Court.
Glossip, with the help of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn his execution.
Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond had argued that Glossip’s trial was “unfair and unreliable,” but a state tribunal ultimately ruled against clemency, and the inmate’s execution was set for May 18.
While the Supreme Court decides whether or not to accept his case formally, the emergency stay of execution will remain in effect.
The directive issued on Friday was met with no public opposition.
In 1997, when he was 19 years old, Justin Sneed admitted to killing Glossip’s former hotel supervisor, Barry Van Treese, by robbing him and beating him to death with a baseball bat. Sneed testified against Glossip and earned a life sentence instead of the death penalty in exchange for his testimony that Glossip had given him $10,000 for the murder.
Despite being convicted of capital murder in 1998 for ordering the death of his boss, Glossip has always maintained his innocence.
The Republican attorney general of Oklahoma investigated Glossip’s case and found that the prosecution had failed to provide him with the required evidence. This evidence proved that the prosecution’s key witness, the alleged murder accomplice of Glossip, had given false testimony.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeal denied Glossip’s plea for a stay of execution despite the state’s claims that it could no longer defend his conviction.
According to Drummond, some of the problems with the case involve Sneed’s testimony that he was lying about his mental illness and the reason he was using lithium to treat his mood disorder. Drummond added that the government had destroyed part of the case’s evidence.
Because of his prior involvement with Glossip’s case as an appeals court judge, Justice Neil Gorsuch has decided to step aside from the proceedings.