OK AG seeks new trial for man scheduled to die next month (who many believe innocent).
DHS moves to fast-track asylum process fearing refugee influx.
Israel now exchanging rocket fire with both Lebanon and Gaza.
Oklahoma AG seeks to vacate conviction for man scheduled to die next month (who many believe innocent)
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has filed a motion to vacate the conviction of death row inmate Richard Glossip, 60, who was scheduled to be put to death on May 18. Glossip was convicted of murder-for-hire in the 1997 killing of his boss, Barry Van Treese. Van Treese was found beaten to death in room 102 of the seedy budget motel Treese owned near Oklahoma City.
Police quickly identified Van Treese’s killer, a meth-addicted handyman named Jason Sneed. Police also quickly latched onto the idea that Glossip, then the manager of the hotel, had hired Sneed to do the killing. Sneed was convicted in Treese’s killing and is serving a life sentence.
However, there is mounting evidence to show that this murder-for-hire theory incorrect and that Sneed acted on his own. Only Sneed’s testimony, both inconsistent and self-serving, links Glossip to Treese’s murder. It also appears that police and prosecutors may have conspired to conceal evidence that could have exonerated Glossip.
Calls to free Glossip
Glossip has had executions scheduled and postponed at least 5 times during his incarceration. The 2017 documentary “Killing Richard Glossip” brought nationwide attention to Glossip’s case. Anti-death penalty activists have pointed to Glossip’s case as a terrible miscarriage of justice, and yet another example of an innocent man on death row.
But even Republican Oklahoma lawmakers who are pro-death penalty have questioned Glossip’s guilt and the justice of putting him to death. In 2021, these lawmakers commissioned an independent law firm to re-examine the evidence in Glossip’s case.
For 4 months, 30 attorneys reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed dozens of witnesses who the police never spoke to. The firm produced a damning 343-page report detailing glaring missteps and outright misconduct by police and prosecutors. In just one example, the firm discovered that between Glossip’s initial conviction and a retrial, prosecutors improperly ordered police to destroy a large volume of evidence in the case.
AG Drummond has called for a new trial for Glossip. In a statement, Drummond said “After thorough and serious deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot stand behind the murder conviction and death sentence of Richard Glossip. This is not to say I believe he is innocent. However, it is critical that Oklahomans have absolute faith that the death penalty is administered fairly and with certainty. Considering everything I know about this case, I do not believe that justice is served by executing a man based on the testimony of a compromised witness.”
DHS moves to fast-track asylum process fearing refugee influx
Sources at the Department of Homeland Security have told ABC News that they are taking steps to speed up the asylum process at the border. With the pandemic-era Title 42 policy set to end, the Biden administration fears that there’ll soon be an influx of migrants at the border seeking refugee status in the US. Title 42, intended as a health policy, allowed the US to quickly expel migrants at the border without allowing them to seek asylum.
With the help of asylum officers and legal aid workers, DHS wants to expand access to legal help for migrants at the border. The agency also wants to facilitate interviews with migrants who express “credible fear” of violence or oppression in their home countries, a key requirement for asylum status. Last year, the Biden administration moved to allow asylum officers to decide cases on behalf of immigration judges. Immigration courts are slow moving and overburdened which has allowed enormous backlogs of cases to build up over the years.
DHS is working with Customs and Border Patrol to set up consulting rooms and private phone booths to allow asylum seekers to speak confidentially with legal aid workers and asylum officers. The hope is that this will get the asylum process rolling faster and relieve congestion at the border.
Israel now exchanging rocket fire with both Lebanon and Gaza
Israeli police raids for three consecutive nights at Al-Aqsa mosque have enflamed ethnic tensions during the Jewish Passover and Muslim Ramadan holidays. The ultra-right nationalist ruling coalition in Israel has been backing extremist Jewish groups who have been plotting to sacrifice a goat at the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is also the site of the ancient Temple Mount sacred to the Jews. For several nights running, Muslims have held overnight vigils at the mosque to try to prevent the sacrifice from happening, as blood sacrifices are considered a polluting act in Islam. Blood sacrifices have also not been practiced in mainline Judaism for nearly 2000 years.
Videos taken by congregants of Israeli police beating Muslim congregants at the mosque have provoked outrage throughout the Middle East, but particularly in Gaza and Lebanon. Yesterday, Hamas militants in Gaza fired several rockets into Israel,. These were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel then retaliated with air strikes in Gaza. So far, no injuries have been reported on either side from rockets.
Now, groups based in Lebanon, Israel’s northern neighbor, have fired dozens of rockets into Israel, again causing no injuries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for this and responded with more air strikes against both Lebanon and Gaza.