Richard Glossip has been on Oklahoma’s death row for almost 25 years. In that time, considerable doubt has been raised about the state’s case against him—including two damning investigations that lead even the state’s attorney general to advocate for a new trial. But none of that has been enough to stop the state’s plan to execute Glossip later this month.
Richard Glossip was convicted for the 1997 murder of his boss, Barry Van Treese. However, no one claims Glossip himself actually killed him. Instead, the state asserts that Glossip, who had been working as the manager of a motel owned by Van Treese, convinced 19-year-old maintenance man Justin Sneed to beat Van Treese to death with a baseball bat as part of an elaborate murder-for-hire scheme. While Glossip claims he was not at all involved in the murder, Sneed—as part of a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty—testified during Glossip’s trial that Glossip had masterminded the crime.
Soon after Glossip’s conviction, the weaknesses of the case began to show. In 2001, Glossip’s conviction was overturned, and he was granted a new trial after an appeals court found that “the evidence at trial tending to corroborate Sneed’s testimony was extremely weak.” However, in 2004, he was reconvicted and resentenced to death. In the following years, Glossip has narrowly avoided death several times—coming so close that he has received three last meals.
However, in the past two years, a spate of new inquiries into Glossip’s case has sparked hope that he may receive a new trial. In 2021, a bipartisan group of legislators requested an independent investigation into the case. When it was finished in July 2022, it revealed staggering misconduct on behalf of the state, including that a county district attorney’s office had directed police to