Tuesday 27 September 2016

Oklahoma governor stays execution of Richard Glossip amid drug concerns

Published 30/09/2015 | 23:05

Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip is shown in this Oklahoma Department of Corrections photo REUTERS/Oklahoma Department of Corrections/Handout
Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip is shown in this Oklahoma Department of Corrections photo REUTERS/Oklahoma Department of Corrections/Handout

A US man on death row in Oklahoma has been granted a last minute stay of execution, and said he was happy to have 37 more days.

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Governor Mary Fallin acted as Richard Glossip was set to be executed on Wednesday.

It came about an hour after the US Supreme Court rejected Glossip's request to halt his execution.

In her order, Ms Fallin granted a 37-day stay for Glossip, saying the state needed to determine whether its use of a new drug - potassium acetate - was in compliance.

She reset Glossip's execution for November 6.

Glossip has maintained his innocence in the 1997 death of an Oklahoma City motel owner.

He said he was still in his holding cell when he learned about the last-minute postponement of his scheduled execution.

In a phone interview from death row, he said officials gave him little information about the reason for the execution stay. He said he did not know that the delay was prompted because of a question over the use of the drug potassium acetate.

When told of the confusion over the drug, Glossip responded: "That's just crazy."

Glossip said he has now been returned to his normal cell on death row and is "happy to have 37 more days".

A spokesman for Ms Fallin said the state department of corrections reached out immediately to the attorney general's office once it realised it did not have the proper drugs for the planned execution of Glossip.

Spokesman Alex Weintz said the department gets the lethal drugs on the day of the execution, and prison officials did not realise they had potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride until they were delivered.

He said Ms Fallin is compassionate towards the family of victim Barry Van Treese but that it is her duty to make sure the execution is carried out properly.

A spokesman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt said it is unclear why the department had the wrong drug and that he views the situation as "extremely frustrating".

Earlier, about 30 people had gathered in front of Ms Fallin's mansion to protest against the scheduled execution.

British billionaire Richard Branson took out a full-page ad in The Oklahoman newspaper urging the state to stop the planned execution of Glossip, saying there is a "breathtaking" lack of evidence in the case.

Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon and death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean also have taken up Glossip's cause, while a representative for Pope Francis had also asked Ms Fallin to commute the death sentence.

Glossip has maintained his innocence despite being convicted twice for his role in the 1997 beating death of Mr Van Treese, the owner of an Oklahoma City motel Glossip managed.

He was convicted of having a co-worker kill Mr Van Treese after he found a discrepancy in the motel's books.

Glossip's lawyers claim they have new evidence that suggests co-defendant Justin Sneed acted alone.

The new evidence includes a signed affidavit from another inmate who said he heard Sneed say he framed Glossip.

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