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The state representative who continues to raise concerns about the execution of death row inmate Richard Glossip will hold an interim hearing on the death penalty next week.
State Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, said the meeting would focus on whether Oklahoma lawmakers should enact a moratorium on executions during the 2024 legislative session. McDugle said he still has big concerns about the death penalty in Oklahoma.
"I support the death penalty," he said. "I just want to make sure executions are done properly. I want to make sure it's pure."
The hearing set for Oct. 5 will feature testimony from Adam Luck, the former chair of the state's Pardon and Parole Board; Emma Rolls, first assistant federal public defender; and Andy Lester, the former U.S. magistrate judge for the Western District of Oklahoma and former co-chair of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission. Other speakers will include Demetrius Minor, national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty; Herman Lindsey, executive director of Witness to Innocence and a death row exoneree; and Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Policy Project.
'Right now there is a man on death row who I believe should have a new trial'
For more than a year, McDugle has spoken against the pending execution of Glossip. Glossip was convicted for the 1997 murder-for-hire of his former boss, Barry Van Treese. Prosecutors said Glossip cut a deal with Justin Sneed to murder Van Treese in Oklahoma City. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Glossip a stay of execution pending a decision on his appeal. As of Sept. 27, the high court had not issued a ruling.
This summer McDugle told an Oklahoma City TV station he believed there was unethical communication between the Oklahoma District Attorney's Council and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board that resulted in the board, "making decisions on Glossip before we ever had the hearing."
On Wednesday, McDugle said he he wasn't trying to eliminate the death penalty but instead, trying to make sure it was done properly. "Right now there is a man on death row who I believe should have a new trial," he said.
McDugle said the state has yet to implement any of the 45 proposed changes to the death penalty that were suggested by the 2017 report from the Death Penalty Review Commission. "We are still waiting," he said.
That study recommended a continued moratorium on executions.
"Due to the volume and seriousness of the flaws in Oklahoma’s capital punishment system, Commission members recommend that the moratorium on executions be extended until significant reforms are accomplished," the commission said in its report. "Many of the findings of the commission’s year-long investigation were disturbing and led Commission members to question whether the death penalty can be administered in a way that ensures no innocent person is put to death."
Many of the commission's other recommendations address procedural issues, including better training and a suggestion that would level the pay between attorneys for the Indigent Defense System and those in the district attorneys' offices.
"Attorneys, investigators, and support staff employed by the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System shouldreceive compensation commensurate with that of attorneys, investigators, and support staff employed bydistrict attorneys’ offices in their corresponding counties," the report said.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond also spoken on Richard Glossip case
The state representative isn't alone in his concerns about the Glossip case. In June, following a speech at the Oklahoma Press Association's summer convention, Attorney General Gentner Drummond said he did not believe Glossip would be executed.
"I think it (Glossip's case) will be remanded back to Oklahoma County for the county to adjudicate it," Drummond said. "And if that's the case, I predict it will probably be pled out."
Luck said it was time for Oklahoma lawmakers to "reckon with the injustices inherent in our state's death penalty."
“My front row seat to the system informs my decision to officially join Oklahoma Conservatives Concerned and to call for a moratorium on executions," Luck said in a media statement about the hearing.
Minor, representing the group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, said executing even one innocent person is one too many, especially in a state that professes to value life. “The cases of Glynn Simmons and Richard Glossip, among many others, should give Oklahomans pause and cause lawmakers to slam on the brakes," he said.
The hearing is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 5 in Room 4S.5 at the state Capitol.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Oklahoma Legislature to study death penalty moratorium