Newly uncovered letter casts doubt over sole testimony in Oklahoma demise row

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A handwritten letter has come to gentle casting doubt on the essential testimony of a self-confessed assassin who offered the one implicating proof on the trial of Richard Glossip, a demise row inmate in Oklahoma who’s to be executed in six weeks’ time.

The letter was written in 2007 by Justin Sneed, a motel handyman who by his personal admittance bludgeoned to demise Barry Van Treese, the proprietor of a Greatest Funds, a decade earlier. Sneed’s testimony that Glossip, the supervisor of the motel, had put him as much as the homicide with a promise of $10,000 was central to the state’s case – with no different forensic or corroborating proof to again it up.

Consequently, Glossip was sentenced to demise in his second capital trial in 2004. Against this Sneed, the killer, was given life with out parole.

Within the handwritten letter, Sneed writes to his personal protection lawyer three years later expressing deep anxiousness in regards to the case and his position in it. “There are loads of issues proper now which might be consuming at me,” he begins.

“Somethings I want to scrub up,” he goes on. Then he writes: “I believe you realize had been (sic) I’m going it was a mistake reliving this.”

The letter was uncovered lately by Reed Smith, a world regulation agency that was requested by Oklahoma state lawmakers to hold out an impartial investigation into the Glossip case. In latest days concern that the state could be about to kill an harmless man has reached fever pitch, with 61 legislators – most of them pro-death penalty Republicans – pleading with the state’s lawyer common to carry a particular listening to to think about the brand new proof.

Richard Glossip in a 2021 photograph offered by the Oklahoma division of corrections. {Photograph}: AP

In its 343-page report, launched in June, the regulation agency revealed that prosecutors had deliberately destroyed essential proof earlier than trial in a gross violation of due course of. The overview concluded that “no cheap juror listening to the whole report would have convicted Richard Glossip of first-degree homicide”.

Sneed’s newly uncovered letter, contained in a supplemental report launched by Reed Smith on Thursday, raises additional disturbing questions. What exactly was “consuming at” him, and what did he wish to “clear up”? Most significantly, what did he imply by “it was a mistake”?

But Gina Walker, Sneed’s lawyer from the Oklahoma county public defender’s workplace, to whom he wrote the letter, didn’t increase any of those questions with him. As an alternative Walker, who died in 2020, successfully closed down the dialog.

“I can inform by the tone of your letter that some issues are bothering you,” she wrote again to Sneed in August 2007. “I do know that it was very onerous so that you can testify on the second trial.”

She went on to accuse Glossip’s protection legal professionals of making an attempt to speak Sneed out of testifying, saying that went “completely in opposition to your greatest pursuits to the good thing about their shopper. Had you refused [to testify], you’ll most probably be on demise row proper now.”

She added: “I hope [Glossip] has not or his legal professionals haven’t tried to make you’re feeling liable for the result of his case”.

Kevin McDugle, a Republican consultant within the Oklahoma legislature who has led the decision for a pause within the approaching execution, mentioned the letter amounted to forcing new proof. It strongly steered, he mentioned, that “Sneed wished to recant his assertion implicating Richard Glossip, and his lawyer shut him down”.


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