Success: Execution Halted for Believed Innocent Man on Death Row

Law and Justice

Target: Presiding Judge Clancy Smith, Oklahoma Court of Appeals

Goal: Thank the court for halting the execution of a presumed innocent man.

Just hours before Richard Glossip was to receive lethal injection, an appeals court granted him a stay of execution, to the relief of the hundreds of thousands of people who believe in his innocence. Thanks to multiple petitions, outspoken death row advocates and a team of lawyers working pro bono around the clock, Glossip still has his life and his lawyers have a chance to present new evidence in his case.

In 1997, Barry Van Treese, owner of the Best Budget Inn that Glossip managed, was beat to death with a baseball bat. It is believed that this murder was carried out by one man only, Justin Sneed, and it was the self-serving testimony of this murderer, not evidence, that put Glossip on death row. Even worse, Oklahoma was going to kill Glossip with a controversial drug that was the cause for a disastrous botched execution last year.

Glossip has maintained his innocence in the hire-for-kill charge brought against him, even repeatedly refusing plea bargains that would have spared him his life. His case caught the public’s attention because of the complete lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime and the suspicion in Sneed’s testimony against him. Sneed, an alleged meth addict who worked maintenance at the Best Budget Inn, confessed to the killing, at first claiming it was an accident. He blamed Glossip after his interrogator gave him the idea, saying it was in Sneed’s best interest to talk about the involvement of another person and that Glossip was “the one.” Sneed’s following versions of Glossip’s involvement has changed multiple times. Prosecutors spared Sneed the death penalty in exchange for his testimony against Glossip.

Advocates for Glossip originally petitioned to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a conservative and supporter of the death penalty. She refused to grant him the stay of execution, saying his conviction was upheld in two trials, even though the first trial was overturned because of Glossip’s inadequate counsel and key pieces of evidence were left out of the second one. Glossip’s lawyers then turned to the appeals court with new evidence and they granted the stay of execution. Thank the court for allowing a fair examination of evidence before taking the life of a man.


Dear Presiding Judge Clancy Smith,

Advocates for Richard Glossip are relieved that he still has his life and I want to offer you our deepest gratitude for issuing his stay of execution. It is unreasonable and atrocious to grant the death penalty to a man who definitely didn’t murder anyone himself and whose case against him in hiring the killing is extremely weak. I appreciate that the case is now being more thoroughly reviewed.

The new evidence brought by Glossip’s lawyers challenges Sneed’s testimony, including claims that Sneed was a meth addict who regularly stole from the motel rooms and guests’ cars. This implies that it’s much more likely that Sneed tried stealing from Van Treese for his meth habit and ended up killing him in the process. Sneed originally said that the murder was an accident and a common effect of meth is violent outbursts.

If Glossip’s execution had gone through, it would have been a blatant injustice of murder. Thank you for putting a halt to this and for agreeing to review the new evidence provided in this case.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Vladek

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One Comment

  1. It’s my understanding that this is only a brief stay until Sept. 30, while his new defense team has repeatedly asked for 60 days to present his whole case. Unfortunately the sicko governor of Oklahoma has repeatedly refused this request, and would have loved to execute him the other day had not this judge intervened. One of the (many) wonderful things about the death penalty; when the state murders an innocent man they don’t have to worry about his coming back and embarrassing them with his innocence. One more wonderful thing about the death penalty; you can use it against whatever minority you don’t like, especially if the accused is poor and can’t afford a decent lawyer; in fact this is how it is usually used (often with evidence made up by the police or prosecutors, or obtained by torture).

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