Oklahoma which for the record is not the number one for death sentences as that award goes to California. California has managed to do significant more damage without quite the attention that the southern-ish states get for their executions. This article in Slate is about that very subject. But the reality is that no one has stepped up to the plate lately like Oklahoma for murdering, whoops I mean executing, men in the most vile way possible. I can see Texas and Louisiana right now thinking of ways to avoid the whole sloppy death thing but dropping men in piranha filled lakes or lion cages to reenact Spartacus.
But in the meanwhile it appears that thanks to absolutely crappy lawyering another innocent man may be put to death.
Oklahoma Inmate the Focus of Renewed Attention as Execution Date Nears
By ERIK ECKHOLM
The New York Times
SEPT. 11, 2015
Richard E. Glossip was at the center of a major Supreme Court case this year, arguing along with two other men on Oklahoma’s death row that the state’s choice of lethal injection drugs could cause unconstitutional suffering.
The court rejected that claim in a 5-4 decision in June, clearing the way for Oklahoma to resume executions. Mr. Glossip’s is the first; he is scheduled to die on Wednesday.
Now Mr. Glossip, 52, is again a focus of attention, this time over whether he is guilty of the arranged murder in 1997 of the owner of a run-down motel he was managing.
Mr. Glossip’s supporters call his case a striking example of a repeating pattern in American capital punishment, in which a defendant receives inadequate legal representation early on and then, many years later, only as execution nears, higher-powered lawyers and civil rights groups become involved, raising important new issues at the 11th hour, when it may be too late.
Mr. Glossip has won the fervent backing of Sister Helen Prejean, the anti-death-penalty campaigner; the actress Susan Sarandon, who played Sister Helen in the film “Dead Man Walking”; and a new legal team, working pro bono, which says his conviction was marred by poor lawyering and unreliable, police-coached testimony.
Richard Glossip Credit Oklahoma Department of Corrections, via Associated Press
In a drumbeat of media appearances, Mr. Glossip’s supporters are calling on Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma to delay his execution for 60 days while they explore what they say is important new evidence that they released on Friday and will discuss in a news conference in Oklahoma City on Monday.
The victim, Barry Van Treese, was beaten to death with a baseball bat in a room at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, a motel that he owned and Mr. Glossip managed.
Justin Sneed, a 19-year-old drifter with an eighth-grade education whom Mr. Glossip allowed to stay at the motel in return for maintenance work, admitted to the murder and is serving life without parole.
Mr. Sneed testified that Mr. Glossip had told him to kill Mr. Van Treese in return for thousands of dollars in motel receipts. Prosecutors said Mr. Glossip was a cunning figure who feared he was about to be fired for mismanagement and stealing motel revenues, and persuaded Mr. Sneed to commit the crime.
In the absence of any physical evidence against him, Mr. Glossip’s conviction was largely based on Mr. Sneed’s testimony. Mr. Glossip’s lawyers noted that Mr. Sneed changed his story several times before he admitted to the murder, then made a deal to receive life in prison in return for implicating Mr. Glossip.
In a new report commissioned by the defense team and released on Friday, Richard A. Leo, an expert on police interrogations, said that based on transcripts of Mr. Sneed’s questioning and testimony, officers had used techniques that were known to cause false confessions — like telling him he would be the scapegoat for the murder, planting the idea that Mr. Glossip was the mastermind and pressuring Mr. Sneed to say so.
The defense also released on Friday an affidavit from a former drug dealer who said he repeatedly sold methamphetamine to Mr. Sneed at the Best Budget Inn, that Mr. Sneed appeared to be addicted and that he paid for drugs with items he stole from cars and rooms in the motel.
Mr. Glossip’s appeals to the state and federal Supreme Court have been exhausted. His last hope is for Governor Fallin, a Republican, to stay his execution while his lawyers work to persuade a judge, or the state board of pardon and parole, that significant new evidence warrants a new hearing or clemency.
“We are seriously racing against time, as you can imagine,” said one of those lawyers, Donald R. Knight, from Colorado. “We’re trying to do work that should have been done by trial lawyers a long time ago.”
But Governor Fallin has rejected calls to intervene.
“His actions directly led to the brutal murder of a husband and a father of seven children,” she said last month in a statement about Mr. Glossip, stressing that he had been convicted in two jury trials and lost multiple appeals. “The state of Oklahoma is prepared to hold him accountable for his crimes and move forward with his scheduled execution.”
Barry C. Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project in New York, said there were serious “residual doubts” about Mr. Glossip’s guilt. A number of cases in which those sentenced to death were later exonerated, he said, had similarly relied on witnesses who benefited from testimony.
Mr. Glossip was first found guilty and sentenced to death in 1998, but a state appeals court ordered a retrial because his defense lawyers had failed to cross-examine or investigate witnesses effectively.
He was again convicted and condemned in 2004, and the courts did not find evidence of deficiencies that would require a new appeal. But Mr. Knight said the new team had identified weaknesses with that second defense as well.
By all accounts, Mr. Glossip’s behavior on the day after the murder hurt his case.
He later admitted that Mr. Snead knocked on his door late that night and told him he had just killed Mr. Van Treese. He said he did not believe him at first and went back to sleep.
But he did not mention Mr. Sneed’s statement to the police when they initially questioned him the next day, after Mr. Van Treese’s wife reported him missing and his unlocked car was found across the street from the motel.
Mr. Sneed testified that he had taken about $4,000 from Mr. Van Treese’s car and divided it with Mr. Glossip the next morning, and that Mr. Glossip had sent him to buy a hacksaw, trash bags and muriatic acid to help dispose of the body.
Mr. Glossip denied those accusations. In any event, Mr. Sneed fled on his skateboard, and Mr. Glossip was taken into custody after the body was discovered in the motel room the night after the murder. At that point, he did reveal what Mr. Sneed had told him.
Last year, in a mysterious twist, the pardon and parole board received an email that was purportedly written by Mr. Sneed’s daughter, O’Ryan Justine Sneed. Pleading for clemency for what she called “an innocent man,” she wrote that her father had told her that Mr. Glossip had not asked him to commit the murder. She said her father had considered recanting, but was afraid his plea deal would unravel and he would be sentenced to death himself.
But the daughter left no contact information, and so far no one has been able to find her or authenticate the email. Mr. Sneed has made no such statement himself.
The Glossip case reflects a common problem in capital punishment, Mr. Scheck said: a poor defense in the initial trial, which then limits the legal options in later appeals.
“What frequently happens in these capital cases is that the really good lawyers only get involved at the end, when it’s too late,” Mr. Scheck said.
Mr. Van Treese’s family is convinced of Mr. Glossip’s guilt and has thanked the governor for standing firm.
“Execution of Richard Glossip will not bring Barry back or lessen the empty hole left in the lives of those who loved Barry,” family members said in a statement this week to The Tulsa World. “What it does provide is a sense that justice has been served.”