Attorneys for an Oklahoma inmate scheduled to be put to death next week challenged his execution date Tuesday in a motion that claims a court order that set it violates state law.
Richard Glossip, 52, was given a Sept. 30 execution date in an order handed down by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals when it set aside his previous execution date and gave him a 2-week reprieve. Glossip's motion asks the appeals court to rescind the portion of its order that set his new execution date.
Glossip was just hours away from being given a lethal injection on Sept. 16 for arranging the 1997 beating death of motel owner Barry Alan Van Treese when the appeals court halted the punishment. The court wanted to give judges more time to review Glossip's lengthy death penalty challenge in which he claims he is innocent.
The appeals court granted an emergency stay of execution in the order that reset Glossip's execution "without further order" of the court. But Glossip's motion says state law requires that "a new execution date cannot be set before a stay is dissolved."
The motion states that once a stay of execution is lifted by the court, state law requires a new execution date to be set for either 30 or 60 days later, not just 14 days as in Glossip's case.
"Following the statute would permit an orderly presentation and evaluation of claims," the motion concludes.
Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said Pruitt plans to file legal papers in support of the court's order.
"The attorney general believes the court's actions were entirely consistent with the law," Cooper said.
Glossip was twice convicted of ordering the killing of Van Treese, who lived in Lawton and owned the Oklahoma City motel where Glossip worked. Prosecutors said Justin Sneed, a motel handyman, admitted robbing and beating Van Treese, but said he did so only after Glossip promised to pay him $10,000.
Van Treese was found beaten to death Jan. 7, 1997, in a room at the motel. Van Treese was staying at the motel while delivering paychecks and picking up large amounts of money for deposit.
Glossip was questioned by police, and a day later began selling his belongings and telling people he was leaving town, according to investigators. Police again detained him and found him with $1,200; court records show his net pay that week was about $430. Sneed was found with $1,700 after Van Treese's death.
Glossip's case attracted international attention after actress Susan Sarandon, who portrayed nun and death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean in the movie "Dead Man Walking," took up his cause. Prejean has served as Glossip's spiritual adviser and frequently visited him in prison.
Had it not been halted, Glossip's execution would have been the first in Oklahoma since a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state's 3-drug lethal injection formula in June.
Source: Associated Press, Sept. 23, 2015
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