Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Richard Glossip today despite the fact that his conviction is based on circumstantial evidence and self-serving testimony from a single witness, leaving glaring doubts about his guilt of this crime.
Glossip was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of Barry Van Treese, whose body was found in one of the rooms of the motel he owned in Oklahoma City. At the trial, Justin Sneed, who worked as a maintenance man in return for a free room in the motel, confessed to killing the victim but said that Glossip had asked him to do it. Sneed testified against Glossip in order to avoid the death penalty and is serving a life sentence.
In 2001, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals wrote that Glossip’s legal representation at trial had been “so ineffective that we have no confidence that a reliable adversarial proceeding took place.” The court noted that there was no forensic evidence against Glossip and that the “only direct evidence” linking him to the murder was Sneed’s testimony.
“The death penalty is the ultimate, irrevocable punishment and is never acceptable. If a flawed trial like this can result in the state taking someone’s life, then the system is broken beyond repair,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “This execution must be halted and the death penalty should be ended once and for all.”
Since 2007, seven states have abolished the death penalty, bringing the total number to 19. Another six states have not conducted an execution in a decade or more. Last year only 7 states conducted executions, with Oklahoma ranking fourth. Since 1973, there have been 155 exonerations of death row inmates, including 10 from Oklahoma.
Amnesty International documents the use of the death penalty around the world and has shown a steady global trend away from executions. 140 countries have abolished the death penalty worldwide and only 22 carried out executions in 2014.