Attorney General O’Connor Responds to Lawmaker’s Call for Glossip Evidentiary Hearing

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General John O’Connor released the following statement, “Barry Van Treese was murdered with a baseball bat in the middle of the night in a room of the hotel he owned. Richard Glossip managed that hotel and received an apartment in the hotel as part of his compensation. After meeting with Mr. Van Treese about mostly financial issues, Glossip had reason to fear that he would be fired the next day. 

“Justin Sneed was an 18-year-old maintenance man at the hotel. He also received a room at the hotel as part of his compensation. The evidence at trial showed that Glossip had significant influence over Sneed.

“Sneed testified that Glossip offered him money to kill Mr. Van Treese at Glossip’s first jury trial in 1998. The jury unanimously convicted Glossip of murder for hire and recommended the death penalty. The judge imposed the death penalty.

“The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals sent that conviction back for a second jury trial, because the court did not believe Glossip’s attorney adequately represented him.

“Before the second jury trial, Glossip’s new attorney met with Sneed in an apparent attempt to get Sneed to not testify against Glossip at his second trial. Glossip’s attorney admitted that he met face-to-face with Sneed. It’s on the record before Glossip’s second trial that Glossip’s attorney gave Sneed a copy of a court decision that would allow Sneed to keep his sentence even if he refused to testify against Glossip in the second trial.

“Despite these efforts by Glossip’s attorney to influence him, Sneed again testified in the second jury trial in 2004 that Glossip offered Sneed money to kill Mr. Van Treese. The second jury unanimously convicted Glossip of murder for hire in 2004 and recommended the death penalty. Again, the judge imposed the death penalty. The State did not make any kind of additional deal with Sneed in respect to his testimony in the 2004 trial.

“Sneed has stood by his testimony at all times since, including when the Reed Smith law firm interviewed Sneed in August and September of 2022. 

“Representative Kevin McDugle’s letter raises many of the same issues that Glossip has been presenting to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals since his conviction in 2004. He currently has two cases pending before the Court. The State’s responses to these two cases address these issues and are based upon the record and evidence. The State’s responses summarize the evidence, which demonstrates that Glossip enlisted Sneed to kill Mr. Van Treese.

“Any characterizations of misconduct by the State are false and concern issues that were known by Glossip and his team prior to Glossip’s second trial. Further, these allegations have no bearing on the evidence establishing Glossip’s guilt. Sneed has continued to affirm his testimony is the truth. The prosecutor did not violate any rules regarding witnesses. The Sinclair Station video had no reach into a hotel room across the street. Further, the video camera only viewed the inside of the gas station store. Glossip’s failed polygraph test is irrelevant; after failing the test, he admitted he knew more than what he originally said, thus, evidencing that he lied during the test. Moreover, the polygraph test was not admitted at trial as it was not admissible under the law. And even without Cliff Everhart’s testimony, multiple witnesses testified that Glossip provided false accounts of seeing Mr. Van Treese after Glossip knew Mr. Van Treese was already dead in the hotel room; Glossip himself admitted as much.

“Glossip’s two most recent claims—that the State withheld evidence that Sneed wished to ‘recant’ his testimony and the State improperly fed Sneed testimony from other witnesses—are false:

“First, Sneed has consistently, and most recently this past September, affirmed the truth of his trial testimony against Glossip and explained that he was hoping to secure a better plea deal with the State when he used the word ‘recant.’ Although Sneed did not get a better deal, he still testified against Glossip.

“Second, the State announced on the record to the Court and Glossip’s attorneys during Glossip’s second trial in 2004 that it had reached out to Sneed’s attorney to get clarification on other testimony which had been heard in the trial. Glossip’s defense team did not raise any alarm then, likely because such discussions between attorneys are allowed by the court rules.

“The Court of Criminal Appeals is the proper tribunal to hear the claims of innocence and requests for hearings. My office is confident that the Court will consider the issues raised and render a decision according to the law.”