Richard Glossip was at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case this year, arguing with two other men on Oklahoma's death row that the state's choice of lethal injection drugs could cause unconstitutional suffering. The court rejected the claim, 5-4, in June, clearing the way for Oklahoma to resume executions. Glossip is scheduled to die on Wednesday. Glossip, 52, is again a focus of attention, now over whether he is guilty of the arranged murder in 1997 of the owner of a run-down motel he was managing. Glossip's backers say the case illustrates a repeating pattern in capital punishment: a defendant gets inadequate legal representation and many years later, as execution nears, high-powered lawyers and civil rights groups raise important new issues at the 11th hour, when it may be too late.
Glossip has the support of Sister Helen Prejean, the anti-death-penalty campaigner; actress Susan Sarandon, who played Sister Helen in “Dead Man Walking”; and a new legal team, working pro bono, which says his conviction was marred by poor lawyering and unreliable, police-coached testimony. Glossip's supporters want Gov. Mary Fallin to delay his execution for 60 days while they explore what they say is important new evidence. Justin Sneed, a 19-year-old drifter, admitted to the murder and is serving life without parole. Sneed testified that Glossip had told him to kill the manager in return for thousands of dollars in motel receipts. In a new report commissioned by the defense team Richard Leo, an expert on police interrogations, said officers had used techniques that were known to cause false confessions.