Court halts execution of Oklahoma man who claims innocence

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Oklahoma Execution Highlights Two Controversies

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — An appeals court agreed to halt the execution of an Oklahoma man with just hours to spare Wednesday after his attorneys asked for time to review new evidence, including a fellow inmate's claim that he overheard the other man convicted in the case admit he acted alone.

Richard Eugene Glossip was twice convicted of ordering the killing of Barry Van Treese, who owned the Oklahoma City motel where he worked. His co-worker, Justin Sneed, was convicted of fatally beating Van Treese and was a key prosecution witness in Glossip's trials.

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Glossip, 52, was scheduled to be executed at 3 p.m. But the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to delay the lethal injection after Glossip's attorneys said they had new evidence. Among the material is a signed affidavit from another inmate, Michael Scott, who claims he heard Sneed say "he set Richard Glossip up, and that Richard Glossip didn't do anything."

The court said it granted the temporary stay "due to Glossip's last-minute filing and in order for this court to give fair consideration" to his claims. The court rescheduled his execution for Sept. 30.

During his trials, prosecutors alleged that Glossip masterminded the killing because he was afraid Van Treese was about to fire him for embezzling money and poorly managing the motel. Sneed, a handyman at the motel who admitted killing Van Treese with a baseball bat, was sentenced to life in prison in exchange for his testimony against Glossip.

See photos of Glossip and the case:

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Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip set to die for 1997 killing
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Court halts execution of Oklahoma man who claims innocence
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Richard Glossip. Glossip is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Anti-death penalty activists, including members of MoveOn.org and other advocay groups rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in a final attempt to prevent the execution of Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip on September 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Legal experts, death penalty opponents, and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans have fought tirelessly to prevent the execution of Glossip. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for MoveOn.org)
Sister Helen Prejean, famous for the book "Dead Man Walking" about her work with death row inmates, speaks at Belmont University Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. Prejean is the spiritual adviser for Richard Glossip, the Oklahoma inmate who just got a last minute reprieve from execution. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Kathleen Lord, center, and Don Knight, right, two of Richard Glossip's defense attorneys, look on as Sister Helen Prejean, left, addresses the media outside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester Okla., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, after a stay was issued for Glossip. Glossip was twice convicted of ordering the killing of Barry Van Treese, who owned the Oklahoma City motel where he worked. His co-worker, Justin Sneed, was convicted of fatally beating Van Treese and was a key prosecution witness in Glossip's trials. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sister Helen Prejean, a death penalty opponent, speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Looking on at left is Don Knight, one of the defense attorneys for Richard Glossip. Glossip is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, and his defense team is asking for a stay while they search for evidence in the case. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
From left, Janie Coverdale, who lost two grandchildren in the Oklahoma City bombing, Nancy Norvell and Kathy Wokaty, a sister of death row inmate Richard Glossip, listen during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Glossip is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, and his defense team is asking for a stay while they search for evidence in the case. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Connie Johnson, former Oklahoma state Senator, speaks to a rally to stop the execution of Richard Glossip, in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Glossip is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, Sept. 16. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Ericka Glossip-Hodge, left, daughter of Richard Glossip, and Billie Jo Ogden Boyiddle, right, Richard Glossip's sister, listen during a rally to stop the execution of Richard Glossip, in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Glossip is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, Sept. 16. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Ericka Glossip-Hodge, left, the daughter of death row inmate Richard Glossip, and Don Knight, right, one of his attorneys, wait next to a portrait of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to deliver information to a representative of the governor concerning Glossips's case, in Oklahoma City, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Glossip is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, and his defense team is asking for a stay while they search for evidence in the case. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Nancy Vollertsen holds a photo of her brother, Greg Wilhoit, who spent five years on Oklahoma's death row before being exonerated, during a rally to stop the execution of Richard Glossip in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Glossip is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Billie Jo Ogden Boyiddle, left, a niece of death row inmate Richard Glossip, is pictured following a news conference by his attorneys in Oklahoma City, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Pictured at center is Ericka Glossip-Hodge, his daughter. Glossip is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, and his defense team is asking for a stay while they search for evidence in the case. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Kim Vanetta, of New York, a friend of Richard Glossip, holds a box of correspondence Glossip has received, during a protest at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Glossip is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. At rear is Glossip's niece, Billie Jo Ogden Boyiddle. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Ericka Glossip-Hodge signs the guest book in the Governor's office in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Her father, Richard Glossip, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, Sept. 16. Glossip's family and supporters rallied at the state Capitol, asking for a 60-day stay. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Two juries convicted Glossip and sentenced him to death. His execution was set to be the first in Oklahoma since a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state's three-drug lethal injection formula in June.

Glossip's case garnered international attention after Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon, who played a nun in the movie "Dead Man Walking," took up his cause. The woman Sarandon portrayed in the movie, anti-death penalty advocate Sister Helen Prejean, has served as Glossip's spiritual adviser and frequently visited him in prison.

On Tuesday, Glossip maintained his innocence during a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press. He said he hoped his life would be spared, and that he remained optimistic.

"They'll never take that from me," Glossip told the AP. "I won't let it bring me down. If you've got to go out ... you don't want to be bitter and angry about it."

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