Oklahoma governor halts execution of death row inmate

Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin issues 37-day stay of execution for death row inmate Richard Glossip, delaying his execution for more than a month.

(OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS) – Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin issued a last-minute 37-day stay of execution for death row inmate Richard Glossip on Wednesday (September 30) in order to address questions about lethal injection protocols.

The surprise announcement came shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court denied another request to stay Glossip’s execution.

“Through several phone calls and conversations with the Attorney General’s office, the Governor’s office and out of due diligence, we have asked for, the Governor has granted a stay of execution for Richard Eugene Glossip until next month. This will allow us time to review the current drug protocol and answer any question we may have about the drug protocol,” Oklahoma Department of Corrections director Robert Patton told reporters waiting at the jail in McAlester.

Glossip, 52, was found guilty of arranging the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese, the owner of an Oklahoma City motel that Glossip was managing.

Glossip is the second of six inmates who was scheduled to be put to death in the United States this week and next week, a rare spate of executions. There were 35 executions in the nation in 2014.

Early Wednesday morning, Georgia executed its first woman in seven decades, Kelly Gissendaner. Pope Francis, an outspoken death penalty opponent, had urged officials to commute her death sentence during his trip to the United States.

Pope Francis also appealed to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, to commute Glossip’s death sentence in a letter from a representative the state received on September 21.

Glossip’s lawyers said no physical evidence tied Glossip to the crime and he was convicted largely on the testimony of Justin Sneed, then 19, who confessed to carrying out the killing and said Glossip hired him to do it.

Sneed is serving a life sentence and avoided the death penalty by testifying against Glossip.

The lawyers presented new statements from jail house informants who said Sneed confessed to setting Glossip up so that he could avoid a death sentence.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday (September 28) denied a request to halt the execution, saying in a majority decision it found the evidence was neither new nor compelling enough to merit postponing the execution.