OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Texas law firm partner said Tuesday that at least 20 attorneys are ready to review the case of an Oklahoma death row inmate who has long maintained his innocence in the murder. in 1997 from a motel owner in Oklahoma City.
Stan Perry, a Houston-based attorney for ReedSmith, said his firm has already begun looking into the case of Richard Glossip, 59, who was twice convicted and sentenced to death for killing Barry Van Treese, the owner of the motel where Glossip worked.
A group of Republican House members, led by State Rep. Kevin McDugle, said they were seriously concerned about Glossip’s culpability and asked an outside law firm to review the case.
“We have a team of 20 attorneys working on this case, including two former prosecutors, and our task is to propose, develop and conduct a thorough, comprehensive and independent investigation,” Perry said. “We are not on either side. We are not Mr. Glossip’s lawyers. We have this task of being objective, meticulous and independent.
Perry said the team hopes to wrap up its investigation by April.
Glossip was moments away from his execution in 2015 when prison officials realized they had been given the wrong drug for his planned lethal injection. The discovery led to a nearly seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma that ended last year with the execution of John Grant in October.
Glossip is now the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection protocol as unconstitutional. The trial in that case is scheduled to begin next week in Oklahoma City.
Glossip was convicted and sentenced to death by two separate Oklahoma County juries for ordering the murder of Van Treese. Motel handyman Justin Sneed admitted to robbing and beating Van Treese with a baseball bat, but said he only did so after Glossip promised to pay him $10,000. Sneed is serving a life sentence without parole for his role in the murder.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who took office after Glossip’s second trial ended with a second death sentence, was unavailable for comment on the case Tuesday. But Prater previously said he reviewed transcripts from the original trial, evidence boxes and videotaped police interviews, and remained convinced of Glossip’s guilt.
Prater said, if necessary, he would try Glossip again for first-degree murder and seek the death penalty again.
McDugle, meanwhile, has a bill this session that would create a sentencing integrity unit at the Pardons and Parole Board to review death sentences in certain cases.