Attorneys for Oklahoma Inmate Allege Witness Intimidation

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Attorneys for Oklahoma inmate allege witness intimidation.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Attorneys for Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip alleged Wednesday that prosecutors are trying to intimidate defense witnesses who could raise questions about the credibility of the man who implicated Glossip in a 1997 killing. Glossip was set to die September 16, but the court postponed his execution for two weeks after his attorneys filed new evidence they say casts doubts on his guilt. The attorneys filed a notice late Wednesday alleging that defense witness Michael Scott was arrested in northeast Oklahoma for a parole violation so that he could by questioned by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

The court issued a stay for Glossip on Sept. 16, about three hours before his planned execution, so that it could consider evidence the lawyers said points to his innocence, and it then set a new execution date of Sept. 30. Prater said the allegations were “lies.” Scott has said in an affidavit that convicted killer Justin Sneed bragged to him about framing Glossip, 52, for the slaying of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. Scott, a former prison inmate at Joseph Harp Correctional Center, was taken into custody by a large group of law enforcement officers at the home he shares with mother in Claremore on a questionable warrant issued earlier Tuesday. Sneed was sentenced to life in prison for the killing after testifying against Glossip, who was just hours away from being executed last week when the punishment was halted.

He was arrested on complaints he had not finished his community service or paid his fines and court costs stemming from 2014 charges of driving under the influence and possession of a residual amount of marijuana. An appeals court had thrown out a previous conviction, saying evidence against Glossip was “extremely weak.” The case went back to a jury in 2004, which found him guilty and upheld the death sentence. Previously, Glossip’s attorneys gave the court an affidavit from inmate Michael Scott, who claims he heard Sneed say “he set Richard Glossip up, and that Richard Glossip didn’t do anything”. A spokesman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office, which is defending Glossip’s first-degree murder conviction and death sentence, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.

Prater told Scott that he had learned Scott may be in violation of the terms of his suspended sentence and asked authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest, the notice alleges. “Mr. The notice also alleges that an arrest warrant was issued for potential defense witness Joe Tapley after Tapley informed Prater that he did not wish to talk with the prosecutor.

After Scott’s affidavit was made public last week, Prater called the investigation by Glossip’s new defense team a “bullshit PR campaign.” He went on a tirade in front of reporters after defense attorney Don Knight publicly introduced Scott’s affidavit during a press conference at the state Capitol. The notice does not include detail about Tapley’s potential testimony but says that “intimidating conduct … by the State should be immediately stopped.” His case garnered international attention after Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon, who played a nun in the movie “Dead Man Walking,” took up his cause. Oklahoma City attorney Mark Henricksen wrote in the legal filing with the appeals court that as of the end of business Monday, Sept. 21, there were no warrants for Scott’s arrest. Scott was taken to an interrogation room at the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department where he saw a file with the name “Richard Glossip” written on it. Glossip attorneys later learned Prater attempted a similar ploy so he could talk to Joe Tapley, a former cellmate of Sneed’s while the two were in the Oklahoma County Jail in 1997.

Tapley provided an affidavit to Glossip’s attorneys stating that Sneed admitted he acted alone in Van Treese’s death and never mentioned Glossip. “You’ve probably got a combined 100 years’ experience between the three of us and we’ve never heard of something so outrageous,” Knight said, referring to himself and other legal team members. “These are witnesses; they’re not defendants or suspects. They came forward on their own volition because they had information they thought was important before the state killed an innocent man and this is how they’re treated?” Connie Johnson, a former state legislator and current chairman of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said Prater’s actions were outrageous and broke the law. “This continual pulling back of the covers by Richard Glossip’s legal team on behind the scenes shenanigans and outright breaking of the law by state officials is both timely and informative.

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