Texas law firm agrees to review Oklahoma death penalty case
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A partner with a Texas law firm said Tuesday at least 20 attorneys are prepared to review the case of an Oklahoma death row inmate who has long maintained his innocence in the 1997 killing of a motel owner in Oklahoma City.
Stan Perry, an attorney with Houston-based ReedSmith, said his firm already has begun reviewing the case of Richard Glossip, 59, who was twice convicted and sentenced to die for killing Barry Van Treese, the owner of the motel where Glossip worked.
A group of Republican House members, led by state Rep. Kevin McDugle, said they have serious concerns about Glossip’s guilt and sought an outside law firm to review the case.
“We have a team of 20 attorneys working on this, including two former prosecutors, and our task is to come up with, develop and do a thorough, complete, independent investigation,” Perry said. “We are not on any one side. We are not counsel for Mr. Glossip. We have this task to be objective, thorough and independent.”
Perry said the team hopes to wrap up its investigation by April.
Glossip was just moments from being executed in 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong drug for his scheduled lethal injection. The discovery led to a nearly seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma that ended last year with the execution of John Grant in October.
Glossip is now the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection protocol as unconstitutional. The trial in that case is scheduled to begin next week in Oklahoma City.
Glossip was convicted and sentenced to die by two separate Oklahoma County juries for ordering the killing of Van Treese. Motel handyman Justin Sneed admitted robbing and beating Van Treese with a baseball bat, but said he did so only after Glossip promised to pay him $10,000. Sneed is serving a life-without-parole sentence for his role in the killing.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who took office after Glossip’s second trial ended with a second death sentence, was unavailable to comment on the case Tuesday. But Prater has said previously that he’s reviewed transcripts from the original trial, boxes of evidence and videotaped police interviews, and remains convinced of Glossip’s guilt.
Prater has said, if necessary, he would retry Glossip for first-degree murder and seek the death penalty again.
McDugle, meanwhile, has a bill this session that would create a conviction integrity unit at the Pardon and Parole Board to review death penalty convictions in certain cases.