Execution dates scheduled for 6 Oklahoma death row inmates

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday set execution dates for six death row inmates, just hours before an attorney filed a motion for a rehearing in one case.

Execution dates for James Coddington, Richard Glossip, Benjamin Cole, Richard Fairchild, John Hanson and Scott Eizember were scheduled, starting Aug. 25 with Coddington and followed on Sept. 22 with Glossip.

Glossip, whose first conviction and death sentence was overturned, was hours from being executed in September 2015 following a second conviction and death sentence when prison officials realized they had received the wrong lethal drug.

It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used previously to execute an inmate, and executions in the state were put on hold.

Executions in Oklahoma resumed in October with John Grant, who convulsed on the gurney and vomited before being declared dead.

Glossip’s attorney, Don Knight, later Friday filed for a new hearing based on an investigation by a Houston law firm that contends Glossip is innocent.

The report by the law firm Reed Smith alleges evidence was lost or destroyed, and that a detective improperly asked leading questions to co-defendant Justin Sneed to implicate Glossip in the slaying of Barry Van Treese, the owner of the Oklahoma City motel where Glossip worked.

Sneed, the motel handyman, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to beating Van Treese to death with a baseball bat in 1997 in a room at the motel. Sneed testified that he killed Van Treese, but only after Glossip, the motel manager, promised to pay him $10,000 to commit the crime.

“The facts and evidence that we now know in this case prove Richard Glossip is an innocent man,” Knight said. “We urge the State of Oklahoma to grant this request for post-conviction relief based on the abundance of new evidence that has never before been evaluated by a judge or jury.”

Knight also asked that the court lift Glossip’s execution date until reaching a decision on his motion for a new hearing.

“We implore the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to strike Richard Glossip’s execution date until this new information can be fully considered,” Knight said.

The motion alleges prosecutorial misconduct, insufficient and improper evidence, ineffective defense counsel, improper jury instructions and that the judge failed to sequester the jury in the Glossip’s case.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor asked the state appeals court in June to set execution dates for 25 death row inmates following a federal judge’s rejection of their challenge to the state’s lethal injection method.

The dates are each about one month apart. Glossip’s scheduled execution would be followed by those of convicted killers Benjamin Cole, Richard Fairchild, John Hanson and Scott Eizember.