Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Capital Punishment's Fatal flaws

Aljazeera America -- Lauren Carasik
Glossip case highlights capotal punishment's fatal flaws

In denying his request for a reprieve on Sept. 28, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals was deeply divided. Three judges held that new evidence merely expanded on previous theories and did not warrant overriding the principle of final judgment. The panel’s remaining two judges supported a stay of execution and a hearing on Glossip’s innocence, with one arguing the state would not be harmed by a delay and that it had “no interest in executing an actually innocent man” and the other lamenting that his “trial was deeply flawed.” As his defense attorney Don Knight said, “We should all be deeply concerned about an execution under such circumstances.”

“Glossip’s conviction rested almost entirely on the testimony of Justin Sneed, a 19-year-old drug addict who worked at a hotel owned by Barry Van Treese, in exchange for room and board. Sneed confessed to murdering Van Treese but avoided the death penalty by implicating Glossip, a manager at the hotel, as the crime’s mastermind. Glossip was first convicted and sentenced to death in 1998, but the verdict was overturned on appeal in 2001 because he received ineffective assistance of counsel, including his attorney’s failure to show the jury the tape of Sneed’s interrogation, which would have provided ample fodder to impeach his credibility — an obvious blunder. Glossip was found guilty at a second trial in 2004 and sentenced to death again after his lawyers inexplicably failed to present the evidence whose egregious omission justified overturning his previous conviction.