-- A man on death row in Oklahoma who was scheduled to be executed today received a last-minute stay of execution by Gov. Mary Fallin.
Richard Glossip was convicted of ordering the death of a motel owner in 1997, but he claims he is innocent and was framed by a former co-worker.
Fallin issued a 37-day stay of his execution to give the state's Department of Corrections and its attorneys the opportunity to determine whether potassium acetate is compliant with the state's court-approved execution procedures, the governor's office said in a statement. The new execution date is Nov. 6. Shortly before Glossip's scheduled execution, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for a stay of execution with only Justice Stephen Breyer dissenting.
“Last minute questions were raised today about Oklahoma’s execution protocol and the chemicals used for lethal injection,” Fallin said in a statement. “After consulting with the attorney general and the Department of Corrections, I have issued a 37 day stay of execution while the state addresses those questions and ensures it is complying fully with the protocols approved by federal courts.”
Glossip has received also support from Pope Francis. The personal representative of Pope Francis wrote a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin dated Sept. 19 asking her to commute Glossip's death sentence.
"Together with Pope Francis, I believe that a commutation of Mr. Glossip's sentence would give clearer witness to the value and dignity of every person's life, and would contribute to a society more cognizant of the mercy that God has bestowed upon us all," wrote Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the "personal representative of His Holiness Pope Francis to the United States of America."
Glossip's execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary would be the first in the state since the Supreme Court upheld the state's three-drug lethal injection formula of Midazolam this summer.
In 1998, Glossip was sentenced to death, but in 2001 the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction, saying that the evidence to support Sneed's testimony was "extremely weak," the Associated Press reported. However, in 2004, a second jury convicted Glossip and sentenced him to death. After his attorneys appealed that decision, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction in 2008.
Glossip's previous execution dates have been halted. On the eve of his execution earlier this month, his attorneys notified the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals that they had new evidence, including an affidavit from an inmate who said Sneed admitted to lying about Glossip's involvement in the murder. On Monday, the appeals court voted 3-2 that Glossip's new claims simply restate arguments raised in earlier appeals.
The governor added in her statement today: "My sincerest sympathies go out to the Van Treese family, who has waited so long to see justice done."