OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - This week, a law firm released more new evidence that they say brings into question the guilt of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip.
“Shocked, sad, angry,” said Don Knight, Glossip’s attorney, when describing his feelings about the new findings. “Richard spent 25 years on death row now for a crime he didn't commit and every single day, it seems we find out more information that just simply makes that more clear.”
The case goes back to 1997, when Glossip and Justin Sneed were convicted of killing Glossip’s boss and owner of the Best Budget Inn, Barry Van Treese. Sneed confessed to beating Van Treese with a bat.
“How do you tell your kids they’re never going to see their dad again?” Donna Van Treese told KFOR back in 2017.
Sneed was given a life sentence in return for his testifying that Glossip hired Sneed to kill Van Treese. Glossip was sentenced to death.
“The murderer himself now gets off of death row and gets life in prison because he pointed a finger at Richard Glossip,” said Rep. Kevin McDugle, (R ) Broken Arrow.
The first major takeaway from the report, released by Reed Smith, details that the investigation team interviewed Sneed, in which they say Sneed confirmed having had multiple discussions about “recanting” his testimony with several people over an 11-year period.
Those documents explaining the discussions can be found here, starting on page five.
“When these admitted statements from Sneed made to his family in 2014 are combined with the recently obtained letters written by Sneed from 2003 and 2007, all discussing ‘recanting’ or needing to ‘clean things up,’ it is deeply troubling,” said the report.
But Attorney General, John O’Connor fired back, saying “A careful reading of the latest report by Reed Smith reveals that, when Mr. Sneed used the word “recant,” Sneed was referring to his hope to negotiate a shorter prison term in exchange for his testimony at Glossip’s second trial – but that never happened.”
Another key point in the report, shows that the investigation team got access to a new portion of the district attorney’s case file, where they say, “it discovered that Sneed was provided with testimony given by other witnesses before he testified in Glossip’s 2004 retrial.”
“I’m sad that the state feels they have to cheat to win,” said Knight. “Talking with his (Sneed’s) lawyer and getting him to, what looks like, change his testimony during trial, that’s wrong.”
Meanwhile, the AG’s Office is standing by the ruling. O’Connor’s full statement is below:
“For the 25 years since Barry Van Treese was murdered, Justin Sneed has consistently stated that Richard Glossip coerced him into murdering Mr. Van Treese and offered him money to commit the murder. This was Sneed’s sworn testimony in two separate jury trials, in 1998 and 2004. The Reed Smith report admits that Sneed continues to affirm, in 2022, that his trial testimony was truthful.
That fundamental truth has never changed.
The appellate courts have repeatedly found that Mr. Sneed’s testimony is corroborated by other evidence. The other evidence includes Glossip’s attempts to prevent discovery by police of Mr. Van Treese’s body and Glossip’s possession of $1200 for which he could identify no legitimate source.
A careful reading of the latest report by Reed Smith reveals that, when Mr. Sneed used the word “recant,” Sneed was referring to his hope to negotiate a shorter prison term in exchange for his testimony at Glossip’s second trial – but that never happened.
It is Glossip who has changed his story many times. As the attached letters (which were obtained by our office from a story published in 2015 by KFOR) show, Glossip initially claimed that his then-girlfriend, D-Anna Wood, confessed to him that she committed the murder with Mr. Sneed. At his first trial, Glossip’s lawyer accused Mr. Sneed of committing the murder with two other men. Now, Glossip’s supporters allege an anonymous woman who worked at an adult club assisted Sneed in committing the murder.
Two different juries, hearing sworn testimony or witnesses and viewing the evidence, found Glossip guilty of the heinous murder of Mr. Van Treese. The conviction and sentence were highly scrutinized and upheld by the appellate courts. This matter should not be retried in the media. Glossip and those who advocate on his behalf are largely unrestrained in terms of what they can present to the public. Each time they promise new evidence of innocence but fail to present new evidence. The State has relied upon the record in this case.”Oklahoma Attorney General, John O’Connor
Knight tells KFOR Glossip’s clemency hearing is set for Nov. 9.