OKLAHOMA CITY – Defense attorneys for an Oklahoma death row inmate whose execution was delayed last week filed a new affidavit Monday from a second former cellmate who claims the man was framed.
Richard Glossip, 52, was just hours away from being executed Wednesday when the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered his execution halted until Sept. 30 to give the court time to review a lengthy death penalty challenge that Glossip's lawyers filed a day earlier.
His attorneys are trying to convince the appeals court that Glossip did not commit the 1997 beating death of Barry Alan Van Treese of Lawton. A co-defendant, Justin Sneed, confessed to beating Van Treese to death in an Oklahoma City motel room, but said he did so at Glossip's direction.
The new affidavit from Joseph Tapley, whom the affidavit claims shared a cell with Sneed in 1997 at the Oklahoma County Jail, said he never heard Sneed say "anyone — especially not — Richard Glossip" enlisted him to kill the victim. Tapley's affidavit also claims Sneed discussed Van Treese's death two or three times while they were cellmates and that Sneed gave him "very detailed accounts" of how he killed Van Treese with a baseball bat.
"I am sure that Justin Sneed acted alone," the affidavit said. "He never gave me any indication that someone else was involved. He never mentioned the name of Richard Glossip to me. If he had told me that someone else was involved I definitely would have remembered that."
The affidavit says Tapley reached out to Glossip's defense attorneys on Sept. 15 and was interviewed Sunday.
Previously, Glossip's attorneys gave the court an affidavit from inmate Michael Scott, who claims he heard Sneed say "he set Richard Glossip up, and that Richard Glossip didn't do anything." The Oklahoman reported Saturday, according to a prisons system document, that Scott once labeled himself a habitual liar.
Glossip's attorneys for the appeals have argued that his trial representation didn't present enough evidence to discredit Sneed, who was sentenced to life in prison and testified against Glossip.
A spokesman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office, which is defending Glossip's first-degree murder conviction and death sentence, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.
Glossip was twice convicted of ordering the killing of Van Treese, who owned the Oklahoma City motel where Glossip worked. Prosecutors said Sneed, a motel handyman, admitted robbing and beating Van Treese, but said he did so only after Glossip promised to pay him $10,000.
Had it not been halted, Glossip's execution would have been the first in Oklahoma since a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state's three-drug lethal injection formula in June.