Inmate says murderer bragged about sending innocent man to death row
OKLAHOMA CITY —
A former inmate says he heard the key witness against the next man scheduled to die admit he made up his damning testimony. This is the latest revelation brought forward by attorneys and supporters of Richard Glossip. Glossip's execution is scheduled for this Wednesday.
In a sworn affidavit, Michael Scott told investigators working on Glossip's defense that he was incarcerated in the cell across from Justin Sneed at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington. Don Knight, Glossip's new lead counsel, says Scott's story has checked out and provides proof his client is innocent.
The affidavit states Scott heard Sneed talk about the murder case he was in prison for. "I clearly heard Justin Sneed say that, in his statements and testimony, he set Richard Glossip up, and that Richard Glossip didn't do anything," Scott's affidavit reads.
"As a specific example, within the first month or two of my arrival at Joseph Harp, I learned that Justin Sneed had snitched on a guy who didn't do anything. I specifically remember Justin on the top run with a couple of other inmates, fixing some food, and laughing with them about setting Richard Glossip up for a crime Richard didn't do. It was almost like Justin was bragging about what he had done to this other guy - Richard Glossip. Justin was happy and proud of himself for selling Richard Glossip out," the affidavit states.
Knight told reporters this statement, along with others back of their case that Sneed was a drug-addicted, violent man who murdered Barry Van Treese for money and not at the direction of Glossip.
"I heard a lot of new allegations," said Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater who attended the news conference. Prater said Knight first told him about the affidavits last week, but refused to provide details to prosecutors in order for them to investigate the new claims.
"He says 'I'm not going to forward that to you; I'm not comfortable giving that to you', I said then how in the world am I to assure myself that what you're telling me is the truth," Prater recalled.
Prater, who was not in charge of the District Attorney's office during either of Glossip's trials, but says he has reviewed volumes of evidence related to the case and believes the prosecutors did a good job. He believes Glossip is guilty. However, Prater said he wanted to make sure he was fair in reviewing any new evidence uncovered by Glossip's current defense team. Prater accused Knight of withholding crucial details that he could be investigating. Details he believes belong in a courtroom; not the court of public opinion.
"Why do you have a press conference?" Prater said, "This is not about a legal process this is a PR campaign. All they are trying to do is abolish the death penalty in the state of Oklahoma and this country by spreading a bunch of garbage."
"If we would have brought it piece meal it would have been 'no, no, no, no, no,' Knight said in response, "Because the governor has already said 'no, no, no, no, no' a hundred times. Instead we're doing the responsible thing, which is exactly what we think the governor is and what Mr. Prater is and what everybody is when we have everything we think we have."
Knight said the defense team is waiting until the last minute to present the case to the court and public officials. The purpose of waiting until the last minute is to gather all the details and present the case in whole because they will not get a second chance.
"This is crap," Prater said, "This is a bullshit PR campaign. That's all it is. You want to do something in the legal...do it in the courts; that's where we operate."
"We have affidavits, I mean that's what the rules require us to have is affidavits," Knight said, "If it was a bullshit PR campaign I guess I wouldn't have brought an affidavit with me. I guess I would have just said I'm making it upI'm not making it up. I've been out in the field; I've been doing the hard work."
Knight said he called Prater as a courtesy last week because the case was originally argued in Oklahoma County. However, Knight said Prater would play no role in the appeals process and had set up a meeting for Monday morning with other attorneys in the case, but Prater canceled and came to the press conference instead.
"He's upset about it [the press conference] and that's sad situation because I wish we could talk; I wish that he could look at the information without the anger that he now has about the information," Knight said.
""Everyone in this jurisdiction and everyone in this state...know how fair I am," Prater said about why he wanted to review any new evidence. "I've told Mr. knight and I've told Mrs. lord and I've told Sister Helen if there is something I see, if there is anything I see in all the boxes of evidence and the video tapes or anything you provide to me that causes me any concern about Mr. Glossip's guilt, I will call the governor's office and beg her to give him a stay."
Glossip's attorneys have now turned over the additional evidence to the Governor's office. If the governor denies a stay they plan to file a 'successor petition' with the court of criminal appeals, which they admit is a legal long shot even with their new evidence. Knight said the witnesses who have come forward in the last week are evidence of why they need more time to build a complete case to present to the court.
The governor's office has, so far, remained constant with the position they will not grant any stay of execution.
"When this execution is done, Sneed is going to be laughing," Knight said, "He's going to be laughing at everybody; every single person in Oklahoma Justin Sneed got over. They decided to believe the drug addict. They decided to believe the guy who killed."