Fox 25 Investigation: Evidence destroyed in Glossip case before any appeal was decided
OKLAHOMA CITY —
On the eve of a controversial execution, Fox 25 has discovered key pieces of evidence that could back the claims of Richard Glossip's innocence were destroyed. Some of the physical evidence from the murder still exists, but acting on questions from Fox 25, the Oklahoma City Police Department reviewed the property room and discovered an entire box from the case is missing.
That box of evidence was destroyed in 1999. According to a police report the order for destruction came on October 25, 1999, just five days after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered Glossip's initial trial verdict back to Oklahoma County District Court for a 'fact finding' hearing on his claims of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel.
The police report indicates the box of evidence came from the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office and in the report a police officer wrote that the evidence was from the case of Justin Sneed and Richard Glossip. The officer writes the property is marked for destruction because all of the appeals had been exhausted.
"Why would they do that? Why would they destroy evidence in a case that is yet to go back to trial that is on appeal? Why would anybody do that?" asks Don Knight, Glossip's new lead attorney.
The second trial does contain a stipulation from the state conceding there was no physical evidence linking Glossip to the murder scene. In 1997 when the murder happened, the Oklahoma City crime lab was home of Joyce Gilchrist, a police chemist who would later supervise the DNA lab. Her testimony led to dozens of convictions, many were overturned after subsequent review found Gilchrist had misidentified evidence or testified outside the bounds of scientific knowledge. She was never charged and died earlier this year.
It is possible the shower curtain and other destroyed evidence could be tested today and aid in determining Glossip's guilt. However, his attorneys say all the new evidence they've uncovered points to his innocence.
"When you lie you can't remember what you said, so you just start making stuff up again but when you tell the truth it's easy to remember," Knight said.
Knight said they need more time to interview witnesses who were either at the motel in 1997 or who may have heard Justin Sneed admit he lied about Glossip's involvement. Knight said the defense team's work has dramatically changed the narrative of the crime from the prosecution's claims of a conspiracy masterminded by Glossip to a much more reasonable scenario.
"It all sounds like a grand conspiracy when you don't need all that stuff to realize exactly what we've got here which is a meth junkie doing what meth junkies do," Knight said.
Glossip has told Fox 25 since our initial interview last November he was not guilty. He has said Van Treese had come to him before to complain about waking up in room 102 and seeing Sneed standing over him in the room. "I was going to fire Justin that day and was told not to," Glossip told Fox 25.
Facing the eve of his execution, Glossip said he has found peace with his situation, though he is still praying for some sort of intervention. "As far as dying, I don't want to die," Glossip said, "I've made that clear I don't want be a martyr, but if I do have to die I am at peace withI'm not at peace with them taking my life, I'm just at peace with myself and my inner spirit and what I've had to deal with."
Glossip said he did get angry when he learned a former inmate who served in a cell near Sneed signed a sworn affidavit that Sneed was bragging about setting up Glossip for a crime he had no involvement in. However, Glossip said he let go of his anger. "I'm not even going to let Justin Sneed get away with trying to destroy the peace that I have in me. He's taken a lot from me; he's taken a lot from the Van Treese family."
Where does his peace in the face of an execution come from? It comes from the wish Glossip conveyed to Fox 25 during his first interview with us. "It does give me peace knowing that everybody knows the truth now. They knew that Justin Sneed has been lying all along and that's all I wanted. That's all I can ask for, if the worst has to happen, that's all I can ask for is that people know that I was innocent."
The governor's office has held firm to its position not to grant a stay of execution, though that is a possibility, all the way up until the execution begins Wednesday afternoon. Supporters of his execution say they do not believe any of the new evidence presented by Glossip's attorneys proves he was not involved in Van Treese's murder.