US

Illinois native scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma for 1997 death questions evidence in case

An Illinois man scheduled to be executed next month in Oklahoma for his role in a 1997 killing is raising questions about his case, telling a newspaper in his hometown that Oklahoma is going to "kill an innocent man."

Richard Eugene Glossip, born and raised in Galesburg, Illinois, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Sept. 16 for the beating death of Barry Van Treese, who managed the Oklahoma City motel where Glossip once worked. Glossip has maintained his innocence after having been convicted and sentenced to death by two juries. In his final weeks, he's pushing petitions to stop the execution, according to an interview with The (Galesburg) Register-Mail.

"The one thing about it is, no matter what they use, no matter what method they use, the fact is they're gonna kill an innocent man," he told the newspaper from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. "Even if I have to be executed, I want my death to mean something. I want it to stop this from happening to anybody else."

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said she has seen more calls for a delay since actress Susan Sarandon, who played a death penalty opponent in the movie "Dead Man Walking," asserted earlier this month that Glossip was innocent. The woman Sarandon portrayed in the movie, Sister Helen Prejean, has been Glossip's spiritual adviser. Both women have urged Fallin to delay the execution so attorneys can have more time to gather evidence that could potentially clear him.

Fallin has said she has no plans to delay.

Glossip's co-defendant in the case, Justin Sneed, admitted beating Van Treese to death but said he carried it out at Glossip's orders. Sneed was sentenced to life in prison. One of Glossip's lawyers has said Sneed's testimony was vital for the prosecution's case in both of his trials.

Glossip has been hoping that petitions to stop the execution on change.org and moveon.org are effective. Both have over 150,000 supporters combined.

He told the newspaper he's reflected on time spent in Galesburg. Shortly after incarceration, he was looking through a catalogue for potential hobbies and the supplies were distributed from a store in the community roughly 200 miles southwest of Chicago. Though he left more than 20 years ago, he still has relatives in Galesburg.

"I remember everything about Galesburg, it was my home," he said. "I could drive that town blindfolded."

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Information from: The Register-Mail, http://www.register-mail.com