OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday she has no plans to delay next month’s scheduled execution of a man condemned for his role in a 1997 killing, despite concerns by death penalty opponents that he is innocent.
Fallin said in a statement that she is convinced Richard Eugene Glossip is guilty in the beating death of motel owner Barry Van Treese and that the state is prepared to move forward with his Sept. 16 execution.
“Richard Glossip was first convicted of murder and sentenced to death over 17 years ago,” Fallin said. “He has had over 6,000 days to present new evidence. Postponing his execution an additional sixty days does nothing but delay justice for the family of Mr. Van Treese.”
Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said the governor’s office has seen an increase in the number of emails and letters in support of Glossip since actress Susan Sarandon, who played a death penalty opponent in the movie “Dead Man Walking,” claimed last week that Glossip was innocent. The woman Sarandon portrayed in the movie, anti-death penalty advocate Sister Helen Prejean, has been serving as Glossip’s spiritual adviser, and both women have urged Fallin to order a 60-day delay so that his attorneys can have more time to gather evidence that could potentially clear him.
Glossip’s co-defendant in the case, Justin Sneed, admitted beating Van Treese to death but said he did so at Glossip’s direction. Sneed was sentenced to life in prison.
Glossip has maintained his innocence after having been convicted and sentenced to death by two juries.
One of Glossip’s attorneys, Don Knight of Littleton, Colorado, said Sneed’s testimony was the lynchpin for the prosecution’s case in both of his trials.
“Without Justin Sneed’s testimony, there would be no conviction,” Knight said.
Knight said Glossip’s defense team is seeking information from anyone who may have stayed at the Best Budget Motel in January 1997 or who has spoken to Sneed about his role in the killing.
“There is information coming in, and we are following up,” Knight said. “And we need further help.”
After reviewing all the potential leads in the case, Knight said he expects to formally request Fallin intervene and grant a 60-day stay of execution.
Glossip’s conviction and death sentence have been upheld by four courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and Oklahoma’s five-member Pardon and Parole Board last year unanimously denied Glossip’s request for clemency.
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