State Attorney General John O’Connor replies to legislators, and opposes request for evidentiary hearing in the Glossip case

Oklahoma City – On Tuesday, August 9, state Attorney General John O’Connor released the text of a letter sent to state Representative Kevin McDugle (District 12, Broken Arrow).

O’Connor’s letter was in reply to an August 4 letter from 61 members of the State Legislature.

The letter to A.G. O’Connor had asked him to join the group of legislators in support of efforts to gain an ‘evidentiary hearing’ to take a fresh look at the murder for hire conviction of Richard Glossip, an inmate on Oklahoma’s death row.

In his reply to Rep. McDugle (copied via email to the other 60 legislators) and provided to and other news organizations, O’Connor wrote:

I appreciate your interest in this case dealing with the murder of Barry Van Treese. As you know, the people waived procedural objections to Richard Glossip’s innocence claims. However, I cannot join in your request for an evidentiary hearing.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals heard Glossip’s case on appeal following his retrial and concluded that the evidence presented to the jury and Judge proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Glossip enlisted Justin Sneed to kill Mr. Van Treese in January of 1997.

Since that time, multiple courts have reviewed this evidence and determined that the jury that convicted Glossip and sentenced him to death did so in full accordance with the law. Glossip’s case has been before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals several times, and now the Court is considering Glossip’s appeal which was filed only after his execution date was set. In addition to this, several federal courts, including the Western District of Oklahoma, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, have rejected Glossip’s claims along the way.

While my office has the utmost respect for the opinions of those members of the Legislature who wrote my office regarding this matter, it is the courts who are authorized to make decisions regarding claims of factual or legal innocence raised on appeal. With that in mind, I look to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to carefully consider the claims before it and render a decision that complies with Oklahoma law.”

Support for the requested evidentiary hearing has increased at the State Capitol in the wake of a lengthy and detailed examination of the Glossip conviction, conducted by the Reed Smith law firm of Texas.

Rep. McDugle, a Republican, drew attention to the Reed Smith study in June of this year.

( ) His work and that of others in the past two years has drawn bi-partisan support in the Legislature.

The Glossip conviction has been among the most controversial in Oklahoma history.

McDugle and others have underscored the depth of new information in the Reed Smith examination.

Various affidavits, to be considered this week by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and other new information brought to the surface comprise the basis for the request for the evidentiary hearing.

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The new or more detailed information gathered has detailed process issues of concern, including police or prosecutor destruction of evidence in the early years of Glossip’s time on death row.

Some affidavits coming to light have undermined the original prosecutors’ theories of the case.

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