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With Hours Left, Oklahoma Court Calls Off Execution Of Richard Glossip

This undated file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Richard Glossip.
This undated file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Richard Glossip.

With just hours left before it was scheduled, the execution of Richard Glossip was halted by an Oklahoma court on Wednesday.

Glossip's case, if you remember, became national news because he took a challenge over the legality of a new drug cocktail used for executions all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court sided with Oklahoma, saying the use of midazolam to render an inmate unconscious did not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals put Glossip's execution on hold for two weeks, because it wants to examine new evidence in the case.

Glossip was convicted of hiring Justin Sneed to kill Barry Van Treese in January 1998.

The Oklahoman reports:

"The new evidence for the court to consider involves Justin Sneed, the man who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for carrying out the killing. Sneed said Glossip hired him to do it.

"Among the evidence is an affidavit from Michael G. Scott, a former inmate who said he served time with Sneed and overheard him bragging about framing Glossip for the murder.

"Other evidence is testimony from a second inmate, Richard Allan Barrett, that Sneed was a thief and a methamphetamine addict and that there was no indication he was under Glossip's control. Barrett said he met both Glossip and Sneed while using drugs in the motel room Barry Van Treese was murdered in."

NPR member station KGOU quotes Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as saying he's confident this review will not result in anything new.

"The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals indicated it needs more time to review the filings," Pruitt said, according to KGOU. "I'm confident that the Court of Criminal Appeals, after reviewing the filings, will conclude there is nothing worthy which would lead the court to overturn a verdict reached by two juries who both found Glossip guilty and sentenced him to death for Barry Van Treese's murder."

Oklahoma has executed one other death row inmate — Charles Warner — since it botched the execution of Clayon Lockett in April 2014.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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