Representative Kevin McDugle Responds to Attorney General O’Connor’s Recent Statement on Glossip Case

October 12, 2022

Representative Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) responded to Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor’s recent statement on the Glossip legal team’s request for an evidentiary hearing. Rep. McDugle’s responses are in bold.

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.

The prosecutors convinced the jury this so-called evidence was the case, but there is little proof at all that this is true.  In fact, the opposite is true.  We know that Justin Sneed and his girlfriend convinced married men to get into bed with his girlfriend and then Justin Sneed would step in and rob them knowing they would not mention it to anyone because then their wife would find out. 

“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.

Once again, the actual Killer made this testimony to save his own life.  How can you consider this testimony accurate when he gets to save his own life by giving it?

“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.

This is a misstatement of the facts on the record.  The attorney in question met with Sneed and asked him if he was going to testify.  It is speculation that there was any “attempt to get Sneed not to testify.”  There is new evidence to support why the attorney asked this question, as we now know that Sneed talked about recanting and not wanting to testify before the second trial.  The attorney’s mistake was not taking a witness with him when he interviewed Justin Sneed, so he had proof of what took place.  We now also know that the prosecutors may have used this meeting between Sneed and Glossip’s lawyer to engineer a delay in the trial, possibly to cover for Sneed’s unwillingness to testify. We will know more if we have a hearing.

“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.

There is no proof that Glossip’s attorney ever tried to “influence” Sneed.  In fact, the State went to great lengths to secure permission to present evidence to that effect, but they failed to produce any.  Sneed actually wrote letters after the first trial wanting to recant.  He apparently never thought his lie would send Richard to death row, and appears to have regret for that after the fact.  The State wants us to believe the testimony of the killer who was given a plea deal for giving the testimony.  The state is choosing to believe the actual killer.

“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. 

Sneed has changed his testimony several times and lied multiple times.  No one can dispute he has lied on many details great and small, even to Reed Smith in September 2022.  He even changed his testimony in the trial in response to the questions about whether he stabbed Van Treese.  And yet the AG wants us to believe his testimony enough to kill another man.

“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.

I will continue to raise these questions until the State takes responsibility for the destroyed evidence, putting a liar on the stand (Cliff Everhart), the missing video tape, and the many lies of Justin Sneed.

“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.

Is this an attempt by the AG to cover up the obvious misconduct of the DA working to change Sneed’s testimony during the trial?  The memo from the DA to Sneed’s lawyer is clear misconduct and Glossip’s team never saw it before September 1, 2022.

Further, these allegations have no bearing on the evidence establishing Glossip’s guilt.

They have plenty of bearing on whether that evidence was reliable and presented fairly. Even Gary Ackley, one of the trial prosecutors, said to Reed Smith that the information known to the DA about Sneed’s desire to recant, and the “night and day” major difference in Sneed’s testimony about stabbing Van Treese, were significant.  Even Smothermon must have thought that changing Sneed’s testimony was critical to establishing Glossip’s guilt. Otherwise, why did she send the memo?

Sneed has continued to affirm his testimony is the truth.

We now know that Sneed’s lawyer told him, in no uncertain terms, that he sticks to his story, or he gets the death penalty.  He is testifying not out of the truth, but out of fear.

The prosecutor did not violate any rules regarding witnesses.

This doesn’t to appear to be true.  A court will have to sort this out.

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.

There is no evidence on the record that anyone ever saw what was on the video.  Either this is a lie, or the State has evidence they have not disclosed to Reed Smith or the defense. The Sinclair station video is not important because we think the murder could be seen on camera, it is important because Sneed visited the gas station just before the murder. Who was with him?  What was he wearing?  These are important clues.  It was also important because one of the guests at the hotel went to the station at 4am leaving all of his things in his hotel room and asked the gas station attendant where the bus station was. He then disappeared.  Who was he and why did he leave so suddenly?

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.

Glossip’s lawyers reviewed the DA’s 7 boxes of documents on September 1, 2022, and confirmed there was no evidence of any record of a polygraph ever being administered to Glossip. When the AG says he “failed the test” they are not being truthful because they know there was no test, and therefore Glossip did not lie “during the test.”  This untrue claim that Glossip failed the polygraph was used by the State at Glossip’s 2014 clemency hearing to support his denial of clemency. 

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.

That doesn’t prove he was part of the murder. There were no witnesses who testified that Glossip wanted Van Treese dead other than Sneed.  None of the witnesses who claim that Glossip lied ever claimed he knew anything about Sneed’s plot with his girlfriend to rob Van Treese for drug money, or that Glossip ever talked of killing Van Treese.

Once again, in this press release, the AG fails to address the box of evidence destroyed which included documents that could never be looked at again and that could have exonerated Richard – Financial documents that could have refuted the claim that he was stealing money.  It was a cash business for the most part any documents would have forever been important and yet the state destroyed them. 

“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:

Glossip presented documentary evidence of both. We now have letters that show Sneed wanted to recant, we have letters that show that Sneed’s defense attorney told him to be quiet because he did not get death row.  There is also strong evidence that shows Sneed was fed evidence.  This is why a hearing is necessary.  The state does not get to say something is false, especially when there is so much evidence, without backing it up on the record in a hearing.

“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.

If Sneed is so truthful, why is the AG afraid of a hearing where he gets to testify?  Sneed did not need a better deal.  He got the deal of not being put to death and if he recanted his testimony he knew the state could reverse that decision.  Of course he still testified against Glossip in order to save his own life.

“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.

Discussions between attorneys with the goal of having witnesses change their testimony to fit the record, which is what looks like happened here, is never “allowed by the court rules” and the AG should be ashamed for saying so.  And, when confronted with the changed testimony, Glossip’s lawyers moved for a mistrial, and it looks like the DA lied to the judge about how this change happened.  Lying to the judge is also not allowed by the rules.

Is it possible to have a terrible defense attorney?  YES, it is even possible to get 2.  Glossip’s attorneys never called even a character witness.  There are now 27 affidavits of people willing to testify to the various ways Sneed was lying or that the State got the case wrong.  There are even people willing to testify that Justin Sneed thought Glossip was a “snitch” because Detective Bemo said Glossip was throwing Sneed under the bus.  When asked who told him to commit the murder, of course Sneed wanted to get back at the “Snitch” and Bemo fed him Glossip’s name 6 times before Sneed even brought it up.  These witnesses have nothing to gain by lying.  They are anguished at the possibility of Richard losing his life and their testimonies need to be heard in a hearing.

“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.”

The default answer by the State is always “it’s in the record.” Well, that was the whole point behind the independent investigation, to see if the record is right.  The new evidence uncovered since 2015 and never presented to a jury was enough to give me pause about Richard Glossip’s conviction.  Now the Reed Smith independent investigation confirms the “record” the State continues to rely on has more holes in it than a cowboy hat at the O.K. Corral. . So what else do they have besides “it is on the record?” Where is the polygraph? Where are the investigator notes? Where is the video? Why was there destroyed evidence? What else do they have other than Sneed’s testimony?

If people are going to have faith in the legal process, they need to know that Oklahoma stands for what is right, not winning at all costs. That includes admitting when we are wrong and trying to right the wrongs made in the past. That’s how we protect our citizens.

Yes, I am hopeful the Court of Criminal Appeals will see what I see and set a new hearing.  The State simply does not have the evidence against Richard Glossip, and they know he will go free if a hearing is actually set. 

The disagreements that are shown here make it clear that a new hearing is the only way to resolve these disputes.  How can the State kill a man with so much that is unclear?  We can make this right.  Grant Mr. Glossip and hearing and let’s sort it out, once and for all.  Before it is too late.


Kevin W. McDugle

Representative HD12

Chairman Business & Commerce Committee

Member of: Appropriations & Budget Committee, Rules Committee