Texas has traditionally held the title of most bloodthirsty state when it comes to executions.
Oklahoma has wrested that title from the Lone State state. Oklahoma is slated to execute, on average, one prisoner a month through December of 2024.
One of those is Richard Glossip. The evidence for his innocence is so strong that even 28 Republican lawmakers, nearly all of whom support the death penalty, have said his case needs to be re-visited.
One of the GOP lawmakers calling on the state to review Glossip’s case, despite a long history of supporting the death penalty, said he’ll advocate to end capital punishment in Oklahoma if Glossip is executed.
“I’m 99% sure that he is not guilty sitting on death row,” state Rep. Kevin McDugle said in an interview with ProPublica. “My stance is not anti-death penalty at all. My stance will be (different) if they put Richard to death, because that means our process in Oklahoma is flawed.”
In a sharply worded dissent in a case challenging Oklahoma’s choice of execution drugs, then-Justice Stephen Breyer argued that the death penalty was no longer constitutional. Among his reasons, Breyer cited studies showing death penalty crimes have a disproportionately high exoneration rate.
In fact, courts have reversed verdicts or exonerated prisoners because of prosecutorial misconduct in 11 death sentences in the same county where Glossip was convicted, according to a study released last month by the Death Penalty Information Center. Another 11 from that county, home to the state Capitol, were put to death using testimony from a disgraced police chemist, the study found.
Though Glossip’s recent appeals have been unsuccessful, a state court judge and a federal judge have noted in appellate rulings the relatively thin nature of the evidence against him. “Unlike many cases in which the death penalty has been imposed, the evidence of petitioner’s guilt was not overwhelming,” the federal judge wrote.
In a letter last year to Gov. Kevin Stitt, McDugle joined more than 30 state lawmakers, nearly all Republicans, in asking him to appoint an independent body to review Glossip’s case and examine what they say is compelling evidence he is innocent.
“Many of those who have signed this letter support the death penalty but, as such, we have a moral obligation to make sure the State of Oklahoma never executes a person for a crime he did not commit,” the letter states. “Mr. Glossip’s case gives us pause, because it appears the police investigation was not conducted in a manner that gives us confidence that we know the truth.”
You can read the rest of the ProPublica article by Ziva Branstetter by clicking here.