Oklahoma state Sen. Kevin McDugle, who has been fighting to stop the execution of death row inmate Richard Glossip, said Tuesday on Newsmax that while he's a strong proponent of the death penalty, the evidence is overwhelming that Glossip, who was convicted in 1998, is innocent and should not be executed.
"I'll tell you I am a pro-death penalty guy, but if we can't get the death penalty process right and make sure that people we're putting to death aren't innocent, then we need to take a serious look at the death penalty itself," the Republican lawmaker said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America."
McDugle said his conclusions come after a third-party investigation, through a law firm hired by an ad-hoc committee at the state House and Senate, determined overwhelming evidence in Glossip's favor.
"Reed Smith, they put in 3,000 hours and had over 30 attorneys who investigated and came back with a report, 343 pages, with all kinds of evidence," said McDugle. "If this evidence had been presented in court, there's no way that a jury would have found this guy guilty."
Glossip's attorneys have appealed again after the state set Glossip's fourth death row date, but McDugle said he's calling on the state attorney general's office to look at the evidence.
"We've gone through procedure," he said. "Everything's been done. We've had two jury trials that said this guy's guilty, but neither one of those juries has seen the evidence that's in this report."
Glossip, a former motel manager, was convicted of murder in connection with the death of his boss, Barry Van Treese, in 1997, reports CNN.
The prosecutors have acknowledged it was another motel employee, maintenance worker Justin Sneed, 19, who beat Van Treese to death with a baseball bat, but they maintained Sneed killed him because of a murder-for-hire scheme masterminded by Glossip, reports CNN.
Sneed was sentenced in a plea deal to serve a sentence of life in prison after he testified against Glossip, but the new report says the testimony was the only evidence that tied Glossip to the murder.
"Richard was not in the room," said McDugle. "He did not commit the murder. That's not even in question. The guy that committed the murder got off of death row with a deal made by the DA's office because he pointed the finger at his general manager after the investigation."
McDugle said he has proposed bills to allow a third-party investigation in death penalty cases.
"In this particular case, the DA's office destroyed an entire box of evidence between the trials," said McDugle, meaning the 10 items that were in the box are no longer available for DNA testing.
"There are no longer available fingerprints, and yet he's still on death row in Oklahoma, and I'm fighting it, because if I don't, who will?" he said.
McDugle there are people who don't want to believe that there can be any flaws in the legal process, but in the Glossip case, "we've got a guy that it's very possible had two attorneys that didn't know what they were doing during those trials. They didn't call one witness, not one witness. This investigation took 10 days. That was it."
Glossip's case drew new attention last month after state Attorney General John O'Connor asked a court for execution dates for 25 death row inmates, Glossip included, reports CNN.
His request came after a federal judge ruled against Glossip in another appeal that argued the state's lethal injection protocol is cruel and unconstitutional.
Glossip has already had three previous dates be stayed, with each one stopped hours before he was to be executed.
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