At High noon on Wednesday, September 16th, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Richard Glossip’s execution for two weeks to consider new evidence presented by his pro bono attorneys. Glossip’s new attorneys put together some binders of information detailing why motel manager Richard Glossip (32 at the time) did not hire maintenance man Justin Sneed (19) to murder the motel owner. Barry Van Treese (73).
Supporters of Richard Glossip continue to insist that Sneed acted alone, or for someone else. They continue to say that the only evidence against Richard Glossip is Justin Sneed’s word. They continue to put forward a letter written by Sneed’s daughter saying Sneed has been wanting to rescind his testimony against Richard Glossip in the last few years, as Oklahoma has been getting ready to execute him. No one can find Justin Sneed’s daughter, though, even today of all days, the day Richard was to be executed in Oklahoma at 3:00 pm central time.
At SpotlightOnLaw, we continue to take the unpopular position that this “new evidence” will amount to nothing and the execution will go forward. A better idea would be to commute Richard’s sentence to Life.
The problem is that Richard’s actions are what convicted him, not just Sneed’s word. He kept people away from Room 102, where Van Treese’s dead body was lying on the floor, and he kept housekeepers off the first floor. He told a fellow employee that Barry Van Treese had left an hour earlier to pick up supplies. He told another fellow employee he was leaving town. Richard Glossip had stolen at least $6,000 dollars on the books and an untold amount off the books from the motel. Glossip had sold vending machines and other equipment that belonged to the motel, and Glossip had not done renovations to the motel rooms as promised.
Most damning of all, only Richard Glossip knew there was cash hidden under the driver’s seat of Barry Van Treese’s car. There was $4,000 there. When Richard and Justin Sneed were arrested each of them had about $2,000 minus a few hundred on them. Richard Glossip claims that he got the cash from selling some personal belongings to raise money for an attorney. Glossip and D-Anna Wood gave conflicting accounts of what the money was for, as Wood claimed the money was so Glossip could buy her breast implants.
Well, if Richard Glossip could prove what items he sold, when, and for how much, that would settle things. Not that someone is required to come up with proof of their innocence, but there’s no evidence that Richard sold those items just days after the murder. And the fact that he had almost $2,000 cash on him when that’s half of what was hidden in the car is a mighty coincidence. Plus, the fact that Sneed did not see the $24,100 that was in the trunk indicates that Sneed did not search the car, but merely recovered the hidden money under the seat as instructed by Richard Glossip, who was the only one who knew the money was there.
It really wasn’t Justin Sneed’s word that convicted Richard Glossip twice. It was Glossip’s own actions as related by other employees of Barry Van Treese, people who had no reason to lie. They are the ones who said that Richard was nervous, had told a number of different stories that contradicted each other, had explained away the broken window and the “missing” Barry Van Treese, and had kept people away from the room. Let’s try to be accurate about what really happened here. Why are the other employees testifying against Richard if he was such a wonderful guy?
Glossip’s supporters claim that Justin Sneed wants to recant, but he’s afraid he’ll be re-sentenced to death if he does so. A guarantee from the state that his punishment will not change would take care of that. Let’s see if that’s what they do in the next two weeks.
However, what went largely unreported is that a reporter did interview Justin Sneed recently, and he re-affirmed that he told the truth at Richard’s trial(s). Richard wanted Van Treese dead, and they split the money. Murder for hire, and especially murder for hire causing a man to be beaten to death with a baseball bat, is a capital crime, and could qualify you for the Death Penalty in all the states that have the D.P.
As reported by the Atlantic on September 13th:
“When questioned by police in 1997, Glossip told detectives that he bought Sneed’s meals and cigarettes and considered him his best friend. They played Nintendo together.
Sneed is not a smooth talker like Glossip, and comes across much as investigators described him in reports on the case: meek, quiet.
Sneed said his initial reluctance to testify against his former friend has been misinterpreted. It’s not because he’s lying, he told The Frontier. He was reluctant because he knew the state was seeking the death penalty against Glossip and he didn’t want to be a part of that.”
Sneed also said that back then at age 19, he had no money, no food, and no education, having dropped out of school at the 8th grade. Sneed had always been under the tutelage of an older male authority figure. Justin Sneed was living at the motel with his older brother and they were both doing maintenance together in exchange for a room. But then Sneed’s brother returned to Texas, abandoning him at the motel. Then, Richard Glossip became that authority figure. Sneed said that looking back, he can see how manipulative Glossip had been.
So, what Glossip’s supporters hope to win in the next two weeks is potentially not there. They have some statements by fellow inmates saying Sneed bragged about “setting Richard up”. It’s awful difficult to tell what someone said and what they really meant and the context. The only thing that can save Richard Glossip is if Justin Sneed recants his testimony, which he won’t, because what he said happened is what did happen.
It’s really up to the Oklahoma courts and the public opinion of the people of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma’s Governor Fallin, who will listen to these voices only. I sincerely hope Richard Glossip’s death sentence is commuted to life. However, Richard Glossip is guilty of murder for hire of a senior citizen and father of seven children who was beaten to death because two people wanted to play God.
The state also should not be playing God with convict’s lives when there are alternatives, and killing is not the only option. People who are for the abolition of the Death Penalty want and need a story of the innocent person who is put to death by the state. This is a great story that many people want to tell, the innocent man, Richard Glossip, who was implicated by Justin Sneed only in order to save his own skin.
But it’s a lie. Re-writing history and reporting lies as truth is not the right way to further any agenda, no matter how noble.
Words in blue are my comments in response to the talking points
“In 1997, Richard Glossip worked as the manager of the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, a motel owned by Barry Van Treese. In the early hours of January 7, Van Treese was beaten to death with a baseball bat in room 102 at the Inn.”
“Justin Sneed, who did maintenance work at the Inn, woke Richard at around 4am. Sneed had a black eye and told Richard a couple of drunks had broken a window and he’d run them off. When Richard said “Really, what happened to your eye?” Sneed said he had killed Van Treese. Richard looked in the parking lot and when he saw Van Treese’s car wasn’t there he assumed Van Treese had not yet returned from the other motel he owned in Tulsa and decided Sneed was messing with him.”
The problem with this story is that Richard’s girlfriend testified she “heard a harrowing noise”. This was not the sound of breaking glass. A motel Manger would hear that noise, then hear about broken glass and not check it out? There is no mention in this story that the window that was broken was from room 102, Barry Van Treese’s room. This would be a critical fact that Glossip would want to know. Supposedly, if D-Anna wasn’t in the know about plans to kill Van Treese, of course Richard Glossip would act like he didn’t know what was going on. Also, this does not explain what happened later in the day.
Later that day Van Treese’s car was found parked haphazardly in a nearby lot. $4000 in cash had been stolen from the car. It wasn’t until late that night that the police discovered Van Treese’s body in room 102. When questioned during the day Richard had not mentioned Sneed’s remark to the police. This was a grave mistake. It wasn’t until he was being taken in by the police for questioning the following night that he told Detective Brown what Sneed had said. By that time, Sneed had left the scene and he wasn’t arrested until a week later.
Sneed was interviewed at length by Detectives Bemo and Cook. He eventually said that Richard had offered him money to murder Van Treese and that Richard’s motive was he wanted Van Treese out of the way so he could persuade Van Treese’s wife to let him manage both motels, and also to hide the fact that he hadn’t been performing the repairs on the motel that Van Treese had expected. Sneed said they could rob Van Treese of the hotel receipts and split the money.
Here Sister Prejean is ignoring facts and minimizing what actually happened. Only Richard knew where Van Treese hid the cash. The defense wants to explain about a bag in Van Treese’s trunk with $24,100 in it. If Justin Sneed had searched the car, he certainly would have taken the cash in the trunk. The fact he didn’t take it helps to show that he only did what Richard Glossip told him to do (take the money in the envelope hidden under the driver’s seat), and he did not search the car on his own.
The motive Justin Sneed gave to the police makes sense. Richard Glossip had failed to renovate the rooms in the motel as promised. The condition of the motel was “deplorable”. Six thousand dollars on the books and much more off the books was stolen. The Manager at the Tulsa motel and the day clerk at Oklahoma City both knew that Van Treese had talked about terminating Richard. Eliminating Barry Van Treese would remove that problem. The wife would most likely take over the business and would be dependent on Richard Glossip.
In exchange for his testimony against Richard, Sneed received a life sentence in a maximum security prison while Richard was sentenced to death.
That’s normal in cases of murder for hire, that the killer usually gets a better deal than the person who set up the murder, especially if they help the state with testimony that helps to convict that person.
There was no physical evidence to corroborate Sneed’s testimony against Richard. The evidence given in support was:
– Richard’s failure to report Sneed’s remark about killing Barry earlier.(It wasn’t Sneed’s remark that Richard reports as thinking it was a joke that’s the problem. The problem is that later in the day, after Glossip knew Van Treese’s dead body was in room 102, he did not report this to anyone). What they are saying is that Richard Glossip, when first questioned by police, did not mention Justin Sneed at all, even though the window broken was the window in Barry Van Treese’s room and it had been broken from the inside, and Justin Snead did make that remark about killing Van Treese.
– Richard’s inconsistency in reporting the last time he saw Barry Van Treese. Several witnesses testified that Richard said he saw Barry after Barry was already dead. Richard has always said those people misunderstood him and thought he meant AM when he meant PM. (Okay, so Richard was misunderstood by multiple witnesses. These witnesses reported that Glossip told them 7:00 am, 4:30 am and 8:00 pm the night before. Even if one of the am’s was really a pm, these are still three different times. Also Richard told the day clerk that Van Treese left earlier to get supplies for the renovations. This was clearly a lie meant to evade. Now, Sister Prejean wants to say that Richard and the day clerk “had a falling out”, so the day clerk would falsely implicate Richard Glossip in a murder, that could cost him his life? Was it that ad of a falling out? She remembered what was said and who said it because she was right there in the front office and this turned out to be a murder, a very memorable event.)
– Billye Hooper, the day-time desk clerk, who had testified that when she came into work that morning Richard had told her that Van Treese had left an hour earlier, also testified that Richard had told the maid not to clean Room 102 the day of the murder. However, Sneed testified that it was he who had told the maid not to clean the room. Richard has also said that he and Hooper had had a falling out some time earlier. (Did it occur to anyone that both Richard and Justin Sneed could have both told the housekeepers to stay away from room 102? Actually, that’s not what happened, according to records. All the housekeepers were told to stay on the 2nd floor, and Justin Sneed and Richard Glossip cleaned the rooms on the first floor.)
– Money missing from accounts. Basic accounting purported to show a $6,100 shortfall. The more detailed records requested by the defense were apparently destroyed in a flood (and see below for more info about those supposed shortfalls). (To be fair, the $6,000 shortfall on the books was the least of the problems with the management of the hotel. Even Barry Treese’s brother, Ken, stated that a $6,000 shortfall over 6 months would not concern Barry Van Treese. The problem was that funny things were going on at the motel. Rooms were being rented out for cash off the books. Van Treese’s security man was suspicious that Glossip was taking at least $200 per week extra out of cash receipts.
The motel rooms were supposed to be renovated and were not. Nearly half the rooms were uninhabitable. I’m assuming that Money was given to Richard Glossip as a budget to fix up the rooms. I’m assuming that money was budgeted for a maintenance man. I’m assuming that by hiring Justin Sneed in return for only room and board, that Glossip was pocketing the extra money budgeted for a maintenance worker’s salary. Even without those assumptions, Glossip was the Manager of the motel. Van Treese was reported by the Tulsa motel Manager to be very angry with Glossip. Van Treese gave Glossip an ultimatum on the 6th: come up with the receipts by the next day an other records by the following week. The next day, Van Treese was murdered in his motel room.)
– The fact that Richard sold several items in the days after the murder and a witness testified he said he was doing so in order to leave town. Richard’s girlfriend, D-Anna Wood, testified that the money was for breast implants for her birthday. Richard himself said he sold them to hire an attorney, because a friend had advised him not to talk to the police again until he had a lawyer. Richard was picked up by the police as he left the lawyer’s office. (Okay, so you have Glossip and his girlfriend both telling different stories. Sister Helen Prejean’s talking points fail to mention that Richard Glossip had sold vending machines belonging to the motel and had pocketed the cash. That’s grand, larceny in addition to fraud and embezlement.)
– The fact that Sneed received no pay other than room and board for his maintenance work at the motel and was thus “in Richard’s power”.(You can make a good argument that Sneed was involved in other things besides the maintenance job and that there were other things Sneed could do besides work at that motel, but he was beholden to Richard Glossip for the room and the board and he was a weak-minded person, at age 19, easily manipulated by someone smart enough to manage businesses.)
RICHARD’S CASE FOR INNOCENCE
No history of violence:
Richard had no history of violence and had never before been arrested. In prison, Richard has been a model prisoner, and shows no sign of “future dangerousness”.(Richard wasn’t charged with a violent crime. People who contract a murder pay someone else to do it because they cannot do it themselves. Justin Sneed was a violent person who was capable of murder. Maybe Richard does show no signs of future dangerousness. I would agree with that. Richard was clearly engaging in felonies with regards to thefts from the motel)
He didn’t kill Barry Van Treese:
Justin Sneed did. And Sneed got life in medium security while Richard got death.(Check any case of murder for hire. You will see that most times, the person who contracted the murder gets a more severe penalty if the murderer testifies for the state and helps to convict the one who arranged the murder. Prior to implicating Richard in a murder for hire scheme, Justin Sneed may have avoided the Death Penalty for a beating death. Murdering for renumeration = money, valuables, or the promise of money or valuables, is a sure avenue to the Death Penalty.)
His crime didn’t satisfy Oklahoma’s own requirements for the death penalty: Under Oklahoma law although someone convicted of murder for hire can be given the death penalty, the testimony of an alleged accomplice must be corroborated by something that would connect the defendant to the crime itself. For example, finding Richard’s DNA or fingerprints on Van Treese’s wallet or finding the wallet in Richard’s possession would satisfy this requirement. But there was no such evidence against Richard at all, and yet he was given a death sentence. (This is not true by the standards of Oklahoma law. Richard was connected to the crime itself, in that Richard lied about the body in the motel room and kept people way from that room. He did not mention Justin Sneed’s name to the police. He wa suspected of having cash from Barry Van Treese’s car on him when apprehended. Richard failed to voluntarily come to the police department for questioning and had to be arrested. The facts and testimony clearly demonstrate Richard Glossip’s involvement in the crime.)
No physical evidence:
There was no physical evidence whatsoever tying Richard to the murder, despite the fact that Sneed testified in the 2004 retrial (but not in the original trial) that they both went to the room after Van Treese was murdered and that Richard had pulled a $100 bill from Van Treese’s wallet and put it in his pocket. Sneed’s fingerprints, on the other hand, were discovered all over Room 102 and his DNA was discovered on a $100 bill collected from the stolen motel receipts. (This is a little bit deceptive, because I believe Sneed testified in the first trial and the second that he and Glossip went together into the room. The only new thing was Glossip taking the $100 bill. Richard Glossip’s DNA HAD to be on the motel receipts, as he most likely counted the money. I would guess that they were not looking for Richard’s DNA on the money. Glossip was all over the motel so, his fingerprints would be expected to be in the room. Sneed was the maintenance man, so his fingerprints would also be expected to be in the room. Sneed committed the murder and Glossip was not there for the murder, so Sneed’s fresh fingerprints and evidence would be there, while Glossip’s would not.)
Why would Richard hand over $4000 to Barry Van Treese and then arrange to rob him of that money? He could have simply walked away with the receipts. Sneed also said that Richard wanted to kill Barry, keep working at the motel, and maybe take over management of the Tulsa motel, too, which just doesn’t make sense. (It’s very easily foreseeable that Richard could give Van Treese the motel receipts, which he had to do, then later decide to kill Van Treese after Van Treese looked at the motel and made Richard an ultimatum that he had 24 hours to come up with the missing receipts. It makes perfect sense that by killing Van Treese, no one would really know the extent of what Richard Glossip had done. The family would take over the business, and Richard is a good spokesman and he’s very convincing. Donna Van Treese or Barry’s brother would most likely take over the business, and not knowing enough about the business, they would rely on Richard.)
Motives belied by the evidence:
Although according to witnesses Richard was supposed to be worried about his job performance and shortfalls in the accounts, Barry Van Treese’s brother testified at Richard’s 2004 retrial that any financial shortfalls were “really insignificant amounts of money” that would not have concerned Barry and that the motel was “very profitable indeed”. Barry had given Richard a performance bonus for 11 of the 12 months preceding the murder. (The motel was “very profitable indeed” after the motel was fixed up and run properly. It wasn’t the money shortfall on the books that concerned Barry Van Treese the most. Although it was established at trial that Van Treese was very angry at Glossip and he gave him 24 hours to come up with missing money. What was really upsetting to Van Treese was the disrepair of the motel and that Glossip had lied to him about renovations on the rooms he was supposed to have taken care of. The idea that Glossip received performance bonuses for 11 our of 12 months doesn’t mean much. The bonuses were based on the receipts meeting an established quota.
Furthermore, Van Treese had been largely absent over the last 6 months, and he really did not know what was going on at his motels. He had been there only 4 times. Glossip did not get the bonus for December due to the shortfall. This is when Van Treese went to the motel to see for himself what was going on. Although Ken Van Treese dismissed the shortfall as no big deal, this was something new. He was planning on staying for a week to make sure that those renovations were started. He was going to find out more problems with Glossip’s management, including the missing vending machines.)
Short, poorly done investigation:
The investigation into Van Treese’s death was very short, turned up very uncertain evidence against Richard, and yet the decision was made to pursue the death penalty. Justice Bryer, in his dissent in Glossip v. Gross, noted that:
“In comparing those who were exonerated from death row to other capital defendants who were not so exonerated, the initial police investigations tended to be shorter for those exonerated.” One example of the inadequacy of the investigation was the way police failed to follow up on other potential suspects in the killing.
The Best Budget Inn was known as a place visited by drug dealers,
prostitutes and people with troubled criminal pasts and on the night of Barry Van Treese’s murder there were several people present who certainly merited investigation but who were essentially ignored. Most notable was Richard Page, who had a long criminal history and was known to be a white supremacist. Paige had been convicted of beating a man to death with a blunt object in Arkansas for
There was no doubt that Justin Sneed was the killer, so there’s no need to look for other killers. The only question there would be is who were his accomplices? Sneed could have given up anyone. Sneed’s story matches the actions and conduct of Glossip. Let’s suppose that Sneed either did this on his own or had other accomplices. Sneed was the only one in the room during the murder, If he had an accomplice(s) in the room, he would not have had trouble with Van Sneed, who managed to get out of bed and fight back, shoving Sneed into a chair causing the bat to break the adjacent window.
So let’s suppose Sneed acted on his own or someone else set up the murder. This can never explain why Richard Glossip lied about the body in room 102, kept people away from the room and never mentioned Sneed to the police. Glossip had $1,700 from the motel receipts on his person when apprehended. He explained that that was money raised by selling some personal belongings to hire an attorney, but the juries did not believe this account.
Bad people often congregate at seedy motels. If you want to suggest someone else was involved, there would need to be some evidence and then you always have the problem of Richard Glossip’s actions. The idea that there was someone else at the motel a week earlier who had beaten a man to death for money, just goes to show that it is not necessarily a Death Penalty case that a man was beaten to death. It is certainly a DP case when there’s a money motive. The fact that a man was a white supremacist doesn’t help either. They already have the murderer and there’s no question about that, so other suspected murderers would not help the case much.
A man named Page was convicted of a murder for hire – which had a striking similarity to the murder of Van Treese – and spent 10 years in prison. Page testified at Richard’s trial that he frequently went into room 102 where he bought drugs from Richard’s brother, Bobby Glossip. Bobby Glossip manufactured and sold methamphetamine and also had a violent past. The police failed to thoroughly investigate these men (as well as others), their relationship to Justin Sneed and their possible involvement in the crime. Inadequate, under-funded defense: Richard had two trials, the first in 1998 and the second in 2004. In his first trial, he had woefully inadequate defense, and in 2001 the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals had no hesitation throwing out the verdict due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
It’s not really helpful to admit that the Manger of the motel, Richard Glossip, had a brother Bobby who would come there to his motel and sell Methamphetamine. Richard Glossip had a bad attorney and a bad trial, which was appealed and he had a re-trial where he was also found guilty.
In his retrial, Richard was represented by the under-resourced Oklahoma Public Defender’s Office.
Neither jury saw critical evidence:
In the original trial the Appeals court found particular fault with the defense counsel’s failure to use the videotape of Justin Sneed’s confession to impeach both Sneed and the detectives who interviewed him:
“[t]rial counsel’s failure to utilize important impeachment evidence against Justin Sneed stands out as the most glaring deficiency in counsel’s performance.”
In the retrial, the defense once again failed to use the videotape, nor did they show the jury the transcripts. At this time, the videotape not only would have provided strong evidence of the police manipulation of Sneed but it also would have shown the many ways Justin Sneed’s story changed from his 1997 interview to the 1998 trial to the 2004 retrial. Despite the defense’s failure to use the
videotape, this time the Appeals court had nothing to say on this egregious omission.
It occurred to me that maybe this “critical evidence” spoken of that was not presented in either of the two trials for a good reason. The police knew that Sneed most likely had an accomplice, so trying to obtain this information is not coercion, it’s good police work. Sure, Justin Sneed’s story changed, as most defendant’s stories do, because at first he is being deceptive. Sneed would try to not implicate Richard Glossip because he was hoping to get out of it and he was still owed about $5,000. The failure of the defense to bring in evidence is not an appeallable issue, save ineffective assistance of counsel, and it seems it was not enough for that issue.
Justin Sneed had a good reason to implicate Richard in the murder:
The transcript of Justin Sneed’s confession makes it clear that the police intimated to him that if he told them that Richard was behind the crime that information would be taken into account by the district attorney; and that otherwise Sneed would be handed over straight away and that he would “be facing this thing” on his own.
The police already had Richard Glossip in custody at that time. They were sure that Richard was an accomplice and they wanted to get more information from Sneed. What’s wrong with that? Sneed would have been better off facing the murder on his own rather than telling the police it was a murder for hire.
Sneed specifically asked the detectives how his confession would help him:
SNEED: So is this going to help me out any at all by telling you all this?
OFFICER: Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. This is definitely going to be better for you this way than it would be if you didn’t say anything.
In fact, by implicating Richard, Sneed avoided a death sentence and was able to make a plea bargain that got him a life sentence, a sentence he is now serving in a medium security prison.
No doubt, a suspect would usually try to make a deal. By implicating Richard, this became a murder for hire and this was now steering Sneed directly into a Death Penalty case.
Justin Sneed’s daughter believes her father wants to recant:
Sneed’s daughter believes that Richard is innocent and that her father would like to recant his testimony, but that he is scared he will lose his plea deal if he does so. In 2015 she sent a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole
Board stating this.
See the letter written to the pardon and parole board by O’Ryan Justine Sneed
My name is O’Ryan Justine Sneed. I am the daughter of Mr. Justin Sneed. I am writing today in regards to Mr. Richard Glossip. I strongly believe he is an innocent man is sitting on death row. I feel there is something missing from my father’s testimony. This letter is not to hurt my father in any way. We have the strongest bond a father and daughter could have. We write and communicate almost daily. But I haven’t had the chance to tell him about Mr. Glossip’s Clemency Hearing so he could draft a letter himself. But the way I feel about Mr. Glossip’s case is too strong to just stay idle. For a couple of years now my father has been talking to me about recanting his original testimony. But has been afraid to act upon it, in fear of being charged with the Death Penalty and not be here for his children.
My father has no reason to do so as a favor to Richard, as him and Mr. Glossip have no relationship and have had no communication in the last 17 years. I feel his conscious is getting to him. His fear of recanting but fear about not oing so makes it obvious that information he is sitting on would exonerate Mr. Glossip. I’m sure if he felt safe that he would not lose his plea agreement he would give new and truthful testimony, much different than his Testimony 17 years ago. He has asked me several times to look into what the legal ramifications would be to his own case if he recanted.
My father told me he said what he had to say to the police to stay in my life. He was backed into a corner, facing being charged with the Death Penalty. But was offered a plea agreement of life without parole to testify against Mr. Glossip. I feel he is holding important facts about Mr. Glossip’s case in fear of losing his own deal. I am sure that Mr. Glossip did not do what my father originally said that he did not hire my father to kill Mr. Van Treese and he doesn’t deserve to die over my father’s actions.
Unfortunately, I’ve just recently been able to find a contact close to Mr. Glossip after years of searching to explain to you why my letter is late. But this has weighed on my heart for years. I’m writing today to ask for Cemency for Mr. Richard Glossip and to please not execute an innocent man. One innocent man has laready taken by my father’s actions. A second one doesn’t deserve to be taken as well.
O’Ryan Justine Sneed
Oklahoma should look into this matter of the letter from Sneed’s daughter. Sneed should be assured his sentence will not change in return for new information. I just see this as Sneed feeling bad that Richard Glossip will be put to death. Why are we hearing about this 17 years later? Why not much earlier? Why has Richard never communicated with Sneed, when common sense says that if a person falsely accuses you of a crime you will pay with your life for committing, you would want to talk to that person and try to convince them to recant their testimony?
Justin Sneed’s testimony changed over time:
There are marked changes in Sneed’s confession and testimony in the two trials. The amount of money he said Richard offered him for the murder changed repeatedly and in the 2004 retrial, he gave many more details and described events which he had never before mention.
Stories change a little and details are forgotten or are remembered. This happens in all trials and is not proof of false testimony. The significant details remain the same. I would expect that Justin Sneed would remember how much money he agreed to murder Barry Van Treese for. I’m sure that he gave the same amount, although Sneed admitted that Richard had given him a number of escalating prices prior to the murder.
I agree that if Justin Sneed in fact gave differing amounts on how much he was offered, that this would be a major issue in establishing a murder for hire. Are there specific details on the actual amounts Justin Sneed gave at trial?
Not the “worst of the worst”:
The Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty should be reserved for those cases that are the “worst of the worst” and “limited to those offenders who commit a narrow category of the most serious crimes and whose extreme culpability makes them the most deserving of execution.” How does this crime fit that category? How does this Oklahoma City crime merit a death sentence when Terry Nichols, convicted of 161 counts of murder in the Oklahoma City bombing,
received consecutive life sentences?
This is a general anti-Death Penalty argument that I agree with. Why not commute Richard Glossip’s sentence to Life with or without parole? He has no prior record, and though this is a heinous and despicable crime done for a few thousand dollars, I don’t think a death sentence is the right answer. I will state that murder for money and murder for hire both fit the narrowing circumstances for the Death Penalty in all states that have the Death Penalty, due to the cold and calculating nature of the crime.
The Terry Nichols argument is not a good argument. Terry Nichol’s jury was divided on the issue of the Death Penalty. The argument that if Life is good enough for some of the really worst murderers we have had, then why have the Death Penalty, is a valid argument.
Oklahoma has condemned other innocent men to death:
Ten people have been exonerated from Oklahoma’s death row. Bad lawyering played a part in two of those decisions and snitch testimony played a part in four of them. Richard’s case contains both bad lawyering and snitch testimony. Add to
that the short police investigation, and his case contains most of the key ingredients found in convictions of innocent people.
This is another general anti-Death Penalty argument and I agree with it. However it was not “snitch testimony” but Richard Glossip’s own actions that revealed his guilt and tied him to this heinous crime.
******* End of Sister Helen Prejean’s Talking Points **********
There is an article by one of the 24 former jurors from Richard Glossip’s two trials, who states that if he had new information, he may have come to a different decision. That’s fair enough. I really don’t see how one could come to a different decision regarding guilt, though.
Now, there is the observation that the trunk of Van Treese’s car contained $24, 100 in cash, with some 100 or so bills that had some blue dye on them. The money was returned to the Van Treese family as the police found nothing suspicious. Richard Glossip’s original attorney from his first trial has taken this fact to weave an elaborate tale. This tale has Barry Van Treese, a family man and devoted Christian who worked with the Boy Scouts and whose interest was amateur radio, stealing money from a drug dealer the week before that resulted in his getting beaten to death.
Problem: They beat the man to death but failed to take their money back? Does the attorney think Barry Van Treese drove around for a week with that cash in his trunk? Did Justin Sneed confess to committing a murder he did not commit? – Even though the evidence all points to him? If someone else hired Justin Sneed to kill Barry Van Treese, why would Van Sneed give money from Van Treese’s car to Richard Glossip? And we are back to the beginning in that if someone else were involved, it still cannot explain Richard Glossip’s actions the day of and in the days after the murder.
If someone could answer the above question reasonably, I could change my mind.
What are these actions and conduct I keep speaking about? Let’s take a look at these facts of the case, taken form Richard Glossip’s second appeal you can view here:
The idea that Richard Glossip was convicted solely on the evidence of Justin Sneed, has already been litigated and it is not true.
Why would all these different people lie in their testimony and give false evidence against a motel manager that everyone seemed to like – except possibly the day clerk?
– Glossip lied about the whereabouts of Barry Van Treese on the morning of the 7th of January, telling his coworker he had “gone to get supplies to fix up the rooms”.
– Glossip did not mention the name of Justin Sneed to the police, even though Justin Sneed was there when the window broke and Justin Sneed had old Richard Glossip that he had killed Van Treese.
– ” In fact, Van Treese was killed hours before Glossip claimed to have seen Van Treese that morning. Glossip’s stories about when he last saw Van Treese were inconsistent. He first said that he last saw him at 7:00 a.m.; later he said he saw him at 4:30 a.m. Finally, he said he last saw him at 8:00 p.m. the night before Van Treese’s death, and he denied making other statements regarding the time he last saw Van Treese.”
– Only Glossip knew about the cash hidden under the driver’s seat in Van Treese’s car. Both Glossip and Sneed were suspected of having cash from that car on them when apprehended. There was $4,000 hidden in Van Treese’s car, the two were caught with $3,200 between the two of them. Glossip claims that was money made from selling furniture and belongings in order to afford an attorney. If that were true, it would have been easy enough to prove.
– Glossip claims the money came from selling furniture and vending machines. The vending machines belonged to the motel and he had sold them off long before Van Treese arrived. In the alternative, Glossip may have had vending machines that were not authorized to be on the property, and he was keeping the profits.
– During the last 6 months of 1996, Van Treese reduced his visits to the motel from the usual 2 per month or 12 visits in 6 months, to only 4 visits in 6 months. It was during this time that Glossip began renting rooms off the books, selling equipment and vending machines belonging to the motel. Glossip had also not begun renovations he had promised to have completed by the end of 1996. Glossip claims that they were selling out every week and he had been responsible for the excellent condition (for what it was) of the motel.
– “The condition of the motel, at the time of Van Treese’s death, was deplorable. Only half of the rooms were habitable. The entire motel was absolutely filthy. Glossip was the person responsible for the day to day operations of the motel. He knew he would be blamed for the motel’s condition.”
– Cliff Everhart told Mr. Van Treese that he thought that Glossip was “pocketing a couple hundred extra” every week during the quarter of 1996. Billye Hooper shared her concerns about the motel with Van Treese. Van Treese told her that he knew he had to take care of things. It was understood that Van Treese was referring to Glossip’s management.
– “Glossip also intentionally steered everyone away from room 102. He told Billye Hooper that Van Treese had left to get materials, and that Van Treese stayed in room 108 the night before. He told Jackie Williams, a housekeeper at the motel, not to clean any downstairs rooms (which included room 102). He said that he and Sneed would clean the downstairs rooms. He told a number of people that two drunken cowboys broke the window, and he tried to implicate a person who was observed at the nearby Sinclair station as one of the cowboys.”
– He told Everhart that he would search the rooms for Van Treese, and then he told Sneed to search the rooms for Van Treese. No other person searched the rooms until seventeen hours after the murder, when Van Treese’s body was discovered.
– Richard Glossip spoke of the private security man, Cliff Everhart, in glowing terms up to the present day. However, Everhart gave damning testimony against Richard Glossip.
– “The next day, Glossip began selling all of his belongings, before he admitted that he actively concealed Van Treese’s body. He told Everhart that “he was going to be moving on.” He failed to show up for an appointment with investigators, so the police had to take him into custody for a second interview where he admitted that he actively concealed Van Treese’s body. He said he lied about Sneed telling him about killing Van Treese, not to protect Sneed, but because he felt like he “was involved in it.” ”
– “All of the evidence taken together amounts to sufficient evidence to, first, corroborate Sneed’s story about Glossip’s involvement in the murder, and, second, the evidence sufficiently ties Glossip to the commission of the offense, so that the conviction is supported.”
There is no reasonable explanation for this behavior under the sun other than Richard Glossip aided and abetted the murder. After realizing that, it’s up to you as to who was in charge of this murder, Glossip, the Manager of the motel who had a motive, or Justin Sneed, a 19 year-old drifter?
So, this corroborates and backs up what I have been saying. Richard Glossip is at least guilty of felony murder, which is in Oklahoma 1st degree depraved murder. Justin Sneed got a deal because he helped the state by testifying against Richard Glossip.
Glossip’s best legal move would have been to fight the Death Penalty on account that he and Justin Sneed were equal partners in the crime, rather than Richard calling the shots. This might have saved him from the death penalty and gave him time to fight the rest of the charge.
Whether Glossip is executed for arranging for Barry Van Treese to be beaten to death with a baseball bat by 19 year-old Justin Sneed is beyond my power. I am merely stating that he is guilty, according to the facts I am aware of.
I have rendered my opinion and I repeat, I do NOT want to see Richard Glossip executed, I hope he gets a stay or a commutation in the next few days. It is simply my opinion, based on the facts that Richard Glossip is guilty as charged. If people entertain doubts that Richard arranged the murder, which I do not, he is still equally guilty with Justin Sneed as a co-conspirator and he’s still guilty of 1st degree felony murder. I would commute his sentence to life.
Now, I have been very specific with you and I have outlined the entire case for and against. If you wish to opine on this article please be very specific in your comments. Being vague and general in your comments only shows me you did not read the article / understand the facts and issues of the case.
Now, I’m not an advocate of the death penalty, and I would rather not see people be executed, but in this country it’s the law of the land in many states. But that’s no reason to ignore facts, as Sister Helen Prejean and Susan Sarandon seem to be doing. Did they ever learn all the facts of the case? Well the guy says he didn’t do it, and he would rather sit on death row with a chance of being freed than confess and know he would die in prison. But that doesn’t make him any less guilty. A man who would steal thousands of dollars from his benefactor and boss will kill that man, given the right circumstance. Let’s not forget the victim, here as one man was left beaten to death with a baseball bat and a wife was left without her husband and 7 children were left without a father.
Case #1 Richard Glossip
( Barry Van Treese Murder Case)
(1 – 3) (Introduce the accused and the victim. Give a brief and objective synopsis of the crime)
“In January of 1997, Richard Glossip worked as the manager of
the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, and he lived on the premises with his girlfriend D-Anna Wood. Justin Sneed, who admitted killing Barry Van Treese, was hired by Glossip to do maintenance work at the motel.
Barry Van Treese, the murder victim, owned this Best Budget
Inn in Oklahoma City and also one in Tulsa. He periodically drove from his home in Lawton, Oklahoma to both motels. The Van Treese family had a
series of tragedies during the last six months of 1996, so Mr. Van
Treese was only able to make overnight visits to the motel four times in that time span. His usual habit was to visit the motel every two weeks to pickup the receipts, inspect the motel, and make payroll.”
So Justin Sneed, the maintenance man, killed Barry Van Treese, the owner of the motel, there is no doubt. The question is whether Sneed acted on his own, and merely implicated Richard Glossip, the live-in Manager, or did Richard Glossip pay Sneed to do the dirty deed?
(4) (pre-trial, trial, and post trial facts)
Justin Sneed got Life in prison without parole. Richard Glossip got the Death Penalty, and he’s scheduled to be executed this year (2015). Actually in just 2 weeks. He would have been executed by the time of this writing if the Supreme Court did not hear the case of States experimenting with new drugs and dosages as the usual lethal injection drugs are no longer available from European pharmacies. This is because Europe, in general, stands in opposition to the Death Penalty.
It appears as though Richard Glossip was involved in a number of improprieties at the motel. Every motel has a maintenance budget. Justin Sneed, 19, came to the motel as part of a construction crew. When the crew moved on to the next job, Justin Sneed stayed behind and he didn’t want to continue the construction job. Richard Glossip, the Manager, hired him as a maintenance man and gave him a free room and board in exchange for maintenance work.
It appears that Richard Glossip was:
– Taking money from the vending machines.
– Selling equipment belonging to the Motel.
– Renting a room to Justin Sneed off the books in exchange for free maintenance work and then pocketing money budgeted for maintenance.
– Probably renting rooms to others for cash off the books and pocketing the cash.
– Doing some jobs, such as housekeeping, himself and then pocketing the money budgeted for these jobs.
So who has a motive for murder?
In addition to all this, he was blatantly stealing from the Motel, and the owner. Barry Van Treese and his wife, noticed at least a $6,000 shortfall by the time Van Treese went to investigate. Richard Glossip had gone too far and he couldn’t hide these funds. Now his money pool was about to dry up and he was about to lose his Manager job.
In comparison, what motive did Justin Sneed have to kill Barry Van Treese? If the owner of the Motel was killed, Sneed might lose his room and board and his job. But then again, he would probably lose these anyways, because the owner was about to find out all the strange things that were going on at the Motel.
If Van Treese is killed, maybe his wife would keep Richard Glossip on as Manager and he could continue doing what he was doing. Glossip perhaps thought Van Treese would find out. But Van Treese already knew of the shortfalls, and knew he was going to go to the Motel, find out what as going on, and possibly fire the Manager, Richard Glossip.
What is Justin Sneed’s motive for breaking into Barry Van Treese’s motel room, room 102, at 3:00 AM and beating him to death with a baseball bat? There is nothing to gain here.
Some sites on the internet are talking about a vast conspiracy with mob connections going right into the police department. They are ignoring the other evidence, the really bad facts about Glossip.
Various sites around the internet allege that Richard Glossip is innocent because:
– He was a law abiding citizen and this was his first criminal arrest.
– Justin Sneed implicated Glossip in order to avoid the Death Penalty.
– The police pressured Sneed into implicating Glossip. Prior to that, Sneed had not mentioned Glossip as a co-conspirator.
– Sneed has refused to testify against Glossip if there were to be a new trial.
Actually, why would Justin Sneed get the Death Penalty anyways for beating a man to death with a baseball bat?
There is this Death Penalty Aggravator in Oklahoma “1)The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, cruel or depraved (or involved torture)”. The murder might not qualify if the victim was killed quickly.
In Arizona, maybe he would face the death penalty, and there was evidence of a prolonged struggle, but chances are, Sneed would not face the Death Penalty for a beating death (10 to 15 blows with the bat). By implicating Glossip, Sneed made things worse for himself, because now he is admitting that he murdered for money, and that would definitely qulaify Sneed for the Death Penalty.
Well, Sneed didn’t mention Richard Glossip the first few go rounds with the police. Well, of course not. That’s what part of the deal was, not to tell, and Richard had promised him a lot more money. Of course Sneed, only 19 years-old at the time, was not going to tell about Richard Glossip until he knew he was not going to be let go.
If Sneed wanted to avoid the Death Penalty, it doesn’t help him to say he murdered for money. He could just say he got into an argument with Van Treese earlier in the evening, he didn’t really know who Van Treese was. He got drunk / drugged and broke in and attacked Van Treese. This would be enough for him to avoid the Death Penalty and possibly get a capital murder case downgraded to a 2nd degree murder charge. Really, Sneed got a really awful deal: life in prison, for testifying against Richard Glossip. So no wonder he is refusing to testify against Glossip in a possible re-trial.
Sneed did not have an altercation or any run in with with motel owner Barry Van Treese. The only way he would even know who Van Treese was, or have the key to his room, is if Glossip told Sneed who Van Treese was. Glossip had to tell Sneed what room he was staying in, and Glossip had to give Sneed the key to his room.
Sneed had alleged:
– That Glossip had approached him a number of times asking him to kill Van Treese, and each time the dollar amount became higher and higher.
– That Glossip explained that Van Treese was coming to investigate what was going on at the Motel, and Glossip told Sneed what to expect.
– That Glossip came to his room at 3:00 AM acting very nervous and asked him agin to murder Van Treese.
– That Glossip offered a large amount of cash money to kill Van Treese – some $10,000
– That Glossip only gave him a percentage of that money, or about $4,000.
– That Glossip participated in the cover-up of the crime, supposedly helping to clean up the scene and planning on disposing of the victim’s car and his body.
– That Glossip had the housekeeper clean only upstairs rooms, while he and Sneed cleaned the downstairs rooms, to hide the murder and the murder scene.
– That after Sneed informed Glossip that he had killed the Motel owner, Glossip went to room #102 to make sure that Van Treese was dead and that Glossip took a $100 bill from the victim’s pocket before helping Sneed to hide the car, according to Sneed.
Now, why else would Glossip participate in the cover-up of the murder other than he was the one who ordered and facilitated the murder? Why on earth would Sneed, on his own, break into the Motel owner’s room and kill the motel owner?
The defense knows if they can blow holes in Sneed’s testimony, the case falls apart, because much of this is on Justin Sneed’s word. But Sneed could not know Barry Van Treese, or have any motive other than theft, or hide the body and the car by himself and right under Glossip’s nose (the night Manager). Nor could Sneed pay himself $4,000 cash and promise himself $6,000 more.
Glossip maintains that Justin Sneed was violent and unreliable and that he was a fugitive using the alias Justin Taylor. Glossip maintains that Justin Sneed had broken into room 102 when Van Treese was there on another occasion at 4 am, and that Van Treese had caught him. Justin Sneed said he decided not to fire him.
Sneed tells a different story. He claims that Glossip really didn’t like Van Treese and had asked him to kill Van Treese a few times in the past. According to Sneed, it got to the point of an inside joke as the three were in the boiler room one day and Van Treese was squatting with her back to the two, when Glossip motioned to Sneed to hit him over the head.
Since Glossip admitted he helped fix up the room and he had been in the room many times, the absence of any fingerprints belonging to Glossip in the room was seen as suspicious.
Glossip did admit to helping to cover up the crime after the murder. His appeals went nowhere.
If you are innocent, why on earth would you help a nineteen year-old cover up the murder of your boss and benefactor?
Glossip claimed that maybe Sneed killed Van Teeese to get to the cash money hidden under the seat of Van Treese’s car. But only Glossip knew the cash was in Van Treeses’ car. If Sneed wanted the money, he didn’t have to kill Van Treese. He could have just broken into the car or he could have stolen the car.
From the Appeals Court:
In rejecting Glossip’s assertions, the OCCA concluded as follows:
Glossip claims there was insufficient evidence to support the sole
aggravating circumstance of murder for remuneration. Murder for
remuneration, in this case, requires only that Glossip employed
Sneed to commit the murder for payment or the promise of payment.
21 O.S.2001, § 701.12.
Here, Glossip claims that Sneed’s self-serving testimony was
insufficient to support this aggravating circumstance. Glossip claims that the murder was only a method to steal the money from Van Treese’s car.
The flaw in Glossip’s argument is that no murder needed to
occur for Sneed and Glossip to retrieve the money from Van Treese’s car. Because Glossip knew there would be money under the seat, a simple burglary of the automobile would have resulted in the fruits of their supposed desire.
The fact is that Glossip was not after money, he wanted Van Treese dead and he was willing to pay Sneed to do the dirty work. He knew that Sneed would do it for the mere promise of a large payoff. There was no evidence that Sneed had any independent knowledge of this money. And Glossip would pay Sneed with Barry Van Treese’s money.
There is sufficient evidence that Glossip promised to pay
Sneed for killing Van Treese.” – He did pay him.
Richard Glossip got Death. Justin Sneed got Life.
Donna Van Treese lost her husband and the father of her children.
(5) What has changed?
There are various appeals and stays in the works as we speak. Richard Glossip’s case has attracted the attention of famous actress and activist Susan Sarandon, and she has had some heated back and forths with the Governor of Oklahoma. Sister Helen Prejean, the famous anti-death penalty advocate and Catholic nun is also hot on the case/
(6) (What could or should happen in the case?)
While I don’t wish the Death Penalty on anyone and I could live without the Death Penalty, it is the law of the land. Richard Glossip planned this murder, he offered Justin Sneed money on several occasions to kill the Motel owner Barry Van Treese. He paid Sneed to commit the murder, and Sneed was caught with $1,700 of that cash still in his possession. Glossip also had cash on him, which he attributed to his Manager salary and the sale of vending machines, which he was not authorized to sell, and personal items.
While helping Sneed keep people away from the room, covering up the crime, and helping sneed repair the damage (broken window) done to the room – Oh yeah – The dead body of the victim was still in the room.
How on earth can Richard Glossip be innocent?
Only in the land of Rainbows and Unicorns.
Glossip should remain in prison and face the penalty he incurred when he decided to kill a man and father of seven children.
(7) Links to best available information from Both Sides of the case:
On A Scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, the chances the defendant / convict could or should be released soon. 0.0
On a scale of 1 to 10, chances that this was a wrongful conviction 0.0
To avoid a “wrongful conviction”:
– Don’t steal from your employer.
– Don’t do illegal things behind your employer’s back
– Do not pay people to kill your employer
– Don’t help the killer hide the body and the car.
– Don’t remove your fingerprints from the crime scene when your fingerprints SHOULD Be at the crime scene.
– Don’t sell property belonging to your employer and keep the cash.
– Don’t rent rooms to people for cash behind your employer’s back and pocket the money.
Barry & Donna Van Treese and 5 of their 7 children, Donna Treese.
Here is your a victim that they want to suggest had mafia or drug connections that got him murdered by person X, who supposedly hired Justin Sneed, according to the new defense story.
“Barry Alan Van Treese was born on Dec. 3, 1942, in Kansas City, Missouri. He grew up and attended school in Lawton, graduating from Lawton High School in 1961. He graduated from Cameron University in 1963. He then attended Arkansas State University and received a master’s degree in banking and finance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. On March 3, 1979, he married Donna Sue Callaway in Miami, Oklahoma. He was involved in banking, electronics and was a motel owner since 1979. He was a member of the Lawton/Fort Sill Amateur Radio Club. He was a co-sponsor of the Jamboree on the Air and was a supporter of the Boy Scouts. He was a member of First Baptist Church. Survivors include his wife; five sons; two daughters; his father; two brothers; two sisters and four grandchildren.”
“Barry was a man that loved everyone; he was a great husband a wonderful father and a best friend,” Donna Van Treese wrote in an October letter to the parole board, which at the time was considering whether to grant clemency to Glossip. “He was the type of person that if you were in need, he would help in any way possible. He would always find the best in any person he met.”
In other letters to the board, family members describe the emotional, physical, and financial woes that were the results of Barry Van Treese’s death. His daughter, Barrie Hall, wrote about the terror their father’s murder caused her siblings.
“Imagine trying to put a child to bed who is troubled, not by imaginary monsters lurking under the bed, but by the very real monsters that live amongst us. The murder of our father robbed them of their childhood innocence and altered forever their perception of the world,” she wrote.
“The ripples in the water, the impact of his untimely death, continue to this day.”