McALESTER — Richard Glossip has come to terms with his death.
“I’ve thought about it so long, I got to a point, if it gets to that stage, I’m ready for it,” said Glossip, 51, in a rare, in-person interview near his cell on Death Row. “You’ve got to be prepared. If you’re not, it’s not going to go well for you.”
Friday marked the first day that the Department of Corrections has allowed media access to Death Row inmates since the clumsy execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29. It took Lockett 40 minutes to die after medical personnel missed his vein with the intravenous needle that was supposed to deliver the deadly drugs.
Glossip said he hopes his death won’t come soon, but he didn’t sound particularly optimistic that he’ll live beyond Jan. 29, when he’s scheduled to die by lethal injection for his role in a 1997 murder-for-hire plot. He’s the second inmate scheduled to die in the renovated execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, under the state’s new execution procedures.
Glossip said he’s already planned his last meal — an Arby’s ham-and-cheese sandwich, a brisket sandwich, fries and a Coke. Other than his freedom, he’s missed Arby’s the most since arriving on death row in 1998.
Glossip was first convicted in a plot to kill motel owner Barry Van Treese a year earlier. The convicted hit man, Justin Sneed, is serving a life sentence.
Glossip maintains his innocence. He said Sneed acted alone in killing Van Treese, then pointed to him to avoid the death penalty. Glossip admits his actions afterwards look bad; he tried to help hide his 54-year-old employer’s murder.
Despite that, Glossip said he doubts that Gov. Mary Fallin will intervene “because of what happened with Lockett and the way she handled that whole thing.”
“Anybody that says we need to get back to business as normal and calling executions business, that’s a scary, scary thing to say,” he said.
Contacted earlier this year, the state attorney general’s office, which has handled all appeals related to Glossip’s case, issued a statement saying that justice would be served by his execution.
A spokesperson noted a 27-page ruling by the state Court of Criminal Appeals that outlined the facts of the case and rejected Glossip’s appeals.
Glossip was convicted twice — the verdict of his first trial was thrown out on appeal — and he was twice sentenced to death.
Earlier this fall, Glossip’s execution date was fast approaching when Department of Corrections officials said they needed more time to prepare for his execution and that of Charles Warner, who is scheduled to die before him.
Glossip said in preparation for his execution, prison officials had moved him to a special cell, designed to hold inmates for the final 35 days.
A new policy requires the cell’s florescent lights to stay lit 24 hours a day for all 35 days, he said. Glossip said he wrapped a sheet around his eyes to sleep. Warner, in the cell next door, pulled a blanket over his head.
All Glossip was allowed to bring with him was a single book. He said the rock music that helped calm him for more than two decades was taken away, as was television.
Glossip said his stomach couldn’t tolerate the food — he’d always purchased food from the canteen, but new regulations say a prisoner can’t buy food within 35 days of his death — and he lost 14 pounds in four days.
A security camera watched his every move.
When his execution was delayed until January, Glossip was returned to his old cell on death row, located beneath the death chamber, and all his privileges were restored.
Glossip said inmates are angry at Lockett for his decision to make his execution difficult by resisting officers and using a razor to slice his arms. Those choices affected everyone on death row, Glossip said, because Lockett’s bungled execution led to the state’s new procedures.
“Lockett really did a number on us all,” he said. “When they do this type of thing, they don’t think about who it is going to affect. There are people not happy at all, but he’s dead, so what are you going to say?”
Asked if he believes in an after-life and fears what it might hold, Glossip hesitated briefly. He admitted that he had doubts until recently, when he saw a TV report in which a woman described her miraculous return from three and a half hours of being dead. “There’s something out there,” he said.
Four men are already scheduled to die in the first three months of 2015 — Warner on Jan. 15; Glossip, Jan. 29; John Marion Grant, Feb. 19; and Benjamin Robert Cole Jr., March 5.