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A Texas law firm is reviewing the case of a twice-convicted Oklahoma death row inmate after a group of Republican state lawmakers, doubting his guilt, intervened on his behalf.
Reed Smith, a Houston-based law firm, volunteered to conduct an independent review of the case against Richard Glossip.
“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,” Stan Perry, a partner with the firm told the Washington Post. “We are not on any one side. We are not counsel for Mr. Glossip. We have this task to be objective, thorough and independent.”
The team plans to have a report completed by April.
“And if the evidence comes back, and he’s guilty then he needs to be put to death. But if the evidence comes back that he’s not guilty, we need to let him out,” Rep. Kevin McDugle said at a press conference on Tuesday, according to the Oklahoman. “And I personally feel it’s going to come back that he’s not guilty.”
The other Oklahoma legislators joining McDugle in the request for the review are Representatives Justin Humphrey and Garry Mize, and Senators David Bullard and Blake Stephens. They stress that they are not against the death penalty, but believe the wrong man is behind bars.
“If the guy is guilty, then by all means, we’ll say execute,” Humphrey told KFOR.
Glossip, now 59, was sentenced to death after he was convicted of hiring Justin Sneed to kill motel owner Barry Van Treese in 1997. He had promised to pay Sneed $10,000.
Sneed admitted to hitting Van Treese with a bat but was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after agreeing to testify against Glossip.
“Justin Sneed pointed a finger at Richard Glossip and that’s the biggest piece of evidence that they have got,” McDugle said according to KFOR. “Richard Glossip had three last meals. If he moves forward with this execution, this will be his fourth.”
Glossip was nearly put to death in 2015, but a drug mix-up led to a postponement.
Afterwards, the state halted all executions for nearly seven years, the Washington Post reported. They resumed in October with the execution of John Grant.
Glossip is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the state’s three-drug lethal injection procedure. The trial is expected to start next week in Oklahoma City, according to the Post.
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said in a statement provided to KFOR that Glossip is guilty.
“Richard Glossip’s case was tried twice because Glossip argued he did not have competent defense counsel in the first trial. The juries in both trials found that Glossip hired Justin Sneed to kill Barry Van Treese. Both juries convicted Glossip of first-degree murder and recommended the death penalty.
Mr. Van Treese was murdered on January 7, 1997. Glossip has had 24 years of appeals. It is time for justice to be served for Mr. Van Treese’s family and the people of Oklahoma.”
Despite that statement, Glossip has some high-profile supporters who are convinced he is not guilty. They include Pope Francis and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon.
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