Oklahoma Execution of Richard Glossip Is Halted by Court

Nancy Ogden, Richard Glossip's sister, with  Kevin Ogden, her grandson, at a demonstration at the state capitol in Oklahoma City protesting Mr. Glossip's execution. (PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Oxford/Reuters)
Nancy Ogden, Richard Glossip’s sister, with Kevin Ogden, her grandson, at a demonstration at the state capitol in Oklahoma City protesting Mr. Glossip’s execution. (PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Oxford/Reuters)

Three and a half hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection, Richard Glossip won a two-week reprieve on Wednesday from an Oklahoma appeals court, which said it wanted time to study new evidence filed by his lawyers the day before.

Mr. Glossip, 52, had been at the center of a major Supreme Court case in June on lethal injections. Along with two other condemned inmates, he had challenged Oklahoma’s use of a new drug combination as unconstitutional, saying it could cause extreme suffering. But the justices rejected the argument in a 5-4 decision, and his execution was set for Wednesday.

His case had received national attention, with Sister Helen Prejean, the anti-death penalty activist, the Innocence Project and others saying that there were serious questions about Mr. Glossip’s guilt.

A new team of lawyers produced accounts from two people that, they said, demolished the credibility of the main witness who had implicated Mr. Glossip, who was not tied to the crime by any physical evidence.

The execution was set for Wednesday at 3 p.m. As recently as Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, refused requests for a delay, saying the new materials did not provide convincing evidence of Mr. Glossip’s innocence in what the state described as an arranged murder.

But in a statement issued at 11:30 a.m., the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals said it wanted to review the new evidence “due to Glossip’s last minute filing, and in order for this court to give fair consideration to the materials included.”

“The execution of Richard Eugene Glossip shall be reset, without further order, for Sept. 30, 2015.”

Mr. Glossip’s lawyers had requested a 60-day stay, to allow them more time to explore what they described as important new leads and assemble a convincing court case. “This man is innocent,” the lead defense lawyer, Donald R. Knight, said of Mr. Glossip at a news conference on Monday.

State officials have dismissed the new evidence, calling it unconvincing hearsay.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt expressed confidence that the appeals court would uphold Mr. Glossip’s conviction, saying in a written statement: “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.”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Erik Eckholm

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