By Patrick B. McGuigan
A private screening of the first episode in Discovery ID’s documentary “Killing Richard Glossip” is slated for Wednesday, April 5 at the Paramount Cinema in Oklahoma City, The City Sentinel has learned.
The “by invitation only” event for what is deemed a “real-time” presentation will feature a panel discussion and question and answer time with Don Knight, legal counsel for Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip, and award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger.
In an exclusive interview, Knight said:
“It’s vitally important to Rich Glossip that his story be told. That no matter what happens to him, people know that he did not have anything to do with the murder of Barry Van Treese. And we know that there are people out there who know what really happened at the Best Budget Inn on January 7, 1997. People who saw or heard something, or talked with someone who saw or heard something. We hope that this show helps them to remember, and then come forward, to help save an innocent man from a wrongful death.”
Killing Richard Glossip includes on-camera interviews with Justin Sneed and with Glossip – the first with either since 2015. (Sneed is the admitted killer, who has offered at least eight different versions of his story about the events of that fateful night.)
Also featured, a release from makers of the film says, are “investigators, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and jurors, from the trials of Richard Glossip.” The series that debuts Monday, April 17, “will include original investigative reporting that reveals new information not yet known to the public.”
Berlinger has dedicated his professional career to exposing criminal justice system abuses. His films include the landmark documentaries Brother’s Keeper (PBS), a Sundance audience award winner and the Paradise Lost Trilogy (HBO), which helped lead to the release of the wrongfully-convicted West Memphis Three after 18 years of incarceration.
Glossip has drawn worldwide support. His advocates, featured in new interviews in the docu-series, include Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon, Sir Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group) and Sister Helen Prejean, perhaps the best known death penalty opponent in the world.
As reported in the March print edition of The City Sentinel, the Killing Richard Glossip documentary premieres exclusively on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel as a special two-night event on Monday, April 17 and Tuesday, April 18 at 9/8 CST. The first two episodes will be available for free on ID GO starting on Monday, April 10 as a special sneak peek. Local channel listings can be found here.
News of the documentary’s premiere and details for the scheduled broadcast have come as Oklahomans await a report – the first of its kind nationwide, expected this spring – from the bipartisan Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission under former Governor Brad Henry, detailing problems with the state’s execution process.
The legal work of Knight and his colleagues (working pro bono) has triggered deep introspection among Oklahomans concerning the efficacy of capital punishment.
In January, Mary E. Sine, executive board member of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP), has said Berlinger’s documentary will raise “public awareness for all Oklahomans and the rest of the nation that wrongful convictions occur. The possibility of executing an innocent person should curb the desire for vengeance.”
Oklahoma City attorney Jim Rowan, also a board member with OK-CADP, told The City Sentinel, “My memory of the two trials that resulted in Glossip’s death penalty conviction is that the killer was compelled to name a co-conspirator by an overbearing homicide detective. The killer’s confession was videotaped and it was obvious that he succumbed to suggestions that Glossip ordered the killing.”
Later, Rowan said, “The cross examination of the killer was inadequate to fully illuminate the circumstances surrounding the confession. Without the confession there was no evidence sufficient to convict Glossip. Only rarely in my experience of trying capital cases does the state accuse an innocent man. This seems to be one of those rare cases.”
Rowan opposes capital punishment, and is a leading public defender in Oklahoma.
Berlinger’s work contains perspectives of many key players in the Glossip story. The documentarian said in January, when the Investigation Documentary (ID) project was revealed, “Even if you think Richard Glossip might be guilty, his three separate trips to the execution chamber is reason enough to deeply question the sanity of the death penalty.
“But when you add to the mix that the case for his innocence is so compelling, then Richard Glossip’s cruel odyssey through the justice system is a wake-up call for how broken capital punishment is in this country.”
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