For almost twenty years, two men convicted of murder – one on death row, and the other sentenced to life without parole – maintain two very different accounts of what led to the slaying of Barry Van Treese on January 7, 1997, at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. Richard Glossip, a man with no prior felony convictions, has consistently maintained his innocence, insisting that he had no knowledge that anyone planned to kill Van Treese. Justin Sneed, who admitted to killing the victim and whose fingerprints were found in the room, cut a deal for a life sentence instead of risking the death penalty by telling the police that Glossip hired him to do it. Now, with cameras following Glossip’s case during what could be the final days of his life, KILLING RICHARD GLOSSIP tells this haunting story – that of a former motel manager sentenced to die for orchestrating a murder that he swears he had nothing to do with. KILLING RICHARD GLOSSIP, a world premiere two-night event, kicks off Sunday, March 5 at 9/8c exclusively on ID.
Is the state of Oklahoma about to execute an innocent man? That chilling question is at the heart of this all-new real-time documentary series, created and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger, who has dedicated his career to exposing abuses in the criminal justice system. Berlinger’s Academy Award®– nominated, Peabody-and Emmy®-winning Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries famously helped lead to the release of one man from death row and two others from life in prison. Every second counts as Glossip sits on death row awaiting execution, and now Berlinger’s cameras are there with exclusive access to capture each moment as the clock ticks down. With support growing worldwide for Glossip, the docu-series also features interviews with high-profile supporters, including Academy Award®-winning actress Susan Sarandon, billionaire entrepreneur and social activist Richard Branson, and anti-death penalty activist and author Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) who, at the eleventh hour, heroically pursued attorneys Don Knight and Mark Olive, convincing them to devote their time to the Glossip case pro-bono.
Van Treese’s body was found beaten and bloody on the floor of a room of the Oklahoma City motel that he owned, and that was managed by Glossip. But there are no DNA nor fingerprints from Glossip at the crime scene that tie him to his boss’ murder. Instead, Glossip’s death sentence is based primarily on the testimony of Justin Sneed, the motel maintenance man who was convicted of Van Treese’s murder and sentenced to life without parole. While Sneed admitted to killing Van Treese, he claims he did so under pressure from Glossip and for promise of payment. Before his two trials, the state of Oklahoma offered Glossip plea deals that would save his life, each of which he rejected, insisting upon his innocence.
Today, Glossip spends 23 hours a day, as he has for the past 20 years, fighting for his life from a tiny underground cell on death row, while Sneed is serving a life sentence at a medium security prison in Oklahoma. In 2015, Glossip was served his last meal on three separate occasions, only for Sister Helen Prejean, the United States Supreme Court, the work of his attorneys, and fate to intervene in each instance, staving off execution. During the state’s third attempt at killing Richard Glossip, Glossip paced back and forth in a cold cell wearing nothing but boxer shorts for 45 minutes after the time for his scheduled execution, only for the execution to be halted due to a lack of approved execution drugs. The state’s investigation into this botched execution attempt led to a moratorium on executions in Oklahoma. Once the details of a new protocol have been decided, Glossip will face a new execution date, which could come as early as this summer. As Glossip continues to skirt the edge of execution, Berlinger’s cameras are embedded with his legal team in real-time as the team races against the clock to uncover new evidence that proves his innocence.
“Nine out of ten times, the American justice system gets it right. Sadly, it’s the unpredictability of that one time it goes astray that has resulted in a staggering amount of people who claim their innocence as they sit on death row,” said Henry Schleiff, Group President, Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “There is a growing consensus of people worldwide that believe Richard Glossip is innocent. Consequently, this convergence of forces – including the support of filmmaker Joe Berlinger who is no stranger to reporting on flaws in the criminal justice system – is why our team at ID feels it’s imperative to provide a platform for the public to hear all sides of the story.”
“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,” said Berlinger. “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.”
The series features unprecedented access to the unfolding re-investigation of Glossip’s case, including exclusive interviews with Glossip and Sneed, as well as the first-ever interviews with the lead detectives and attorneys on both sides of the case. KILLING RICHARD GLOSSIP traces Glossip’s terrifying journey through the criminal justice system, his harrowing brushes with death, and what may be his last chance at freedom for a crime he swears he did not commit.
KILLING RICHARD GLOSSIP is produced for Investigation Discovery by RadicalMedia. For RadicalMedia, Joe Berlinger, Dave O’Connor, Jon Kamen and Justin Wilkes are executive producers, Betsy Wagner is the co-executive producer and Kevin Huffman is the supervising story producer. For ID, Lorna Thomas is executive producer, Sara Kozak is senior vice president of production, Kevin Bennett is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is Group President of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America.
About Joe Berlinger and Third Eye Motion Picture Company
Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy® and Peabody-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger has been a leading voice in nonfiction film and television for two decades, with a particular emphasis on the criminal justice system. Berlinger’s films include the landmark documentaries Brother’s Keeper (PBS), a Sundance audience award winner; the Paradise Lost Trilogy (HBO), which helped lead to the release of the wrongfully-convicted West Memphis Three after 18 years of incarceration; and most recently, Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger, a searing investigation into law enforcement corruption at the highest levels (CNN). Six of Berlinger’s documentary features have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, earning three Grand Jury Prize nominations. Berlinger has been a creator on numerous nonfiction television series, including six seasons of the critically-acclaimed Sundance Channel series Iconoclasts; the Emmy®-winning Ten Days That Changed America for The History Channel; the Emmy®-nominated series Oprah’s Master Class and The System with Joe Berlinger for Al Jazeera America. Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru premiered on Netflix in July 2016. Berlinger’s most recent TV series was Judgment Day: Prison or Parole? for ID, in which he and his team were granted unprecedented access to parole board hearings. Third Eye Motion Picture Company is Joe Berlinger’s film and television development company which partners with RadicalMedia on Berlinger’s nonfiction productions.
RadicalMedia, the Emmy® Award-winning production studio behind the Netflix documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? and the AOL variety talk show, Park Bench with Steve Buscemi has produced many Joe Berlinger directed projects including: the Emmy®-winning documentary, Under African Skies for A&E IndieFilms, the Spirit Award-winning documentary, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster for IFC Films, Whitey: The US vs. James J. Bulger for CNN, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru for Netflix, and the Academy®– and Emmy®Award-nominated, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory for HBO. Other recent projects include the successful TV releases American Divided for Epix; Hamilton’s America for PBS’ Great Performances; Stan Against Evil, Dana Gould’s IFC comedy-horror series; David Blaine: Beyond Magic for ABC; and the tentpole for National Geographic’s worldwide rebranding, a six-part global event miniseries MARS with partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment. Announced series for 2017 include Abstract: The Art of Design, an eight-part Netflix series, demystifying the contemporary creative experience; a second season of Stan Against Evil for IFC; and Going Off, a MTV docuseries set in the studio of master choreographer and YouTube star, Tricia Miranda.
About Investigation Discovery
Investigation Discovery (ID) is the leading mystery-and-suspense network on television. From harrowing crimes and salacious scandals to the in-depth investigations and heart-breaking mysteries behind these “real people, real stories,” the “always revealing” network challenges our everyday understanding of culture, society, and the human condition. One of our nation’s fastest growing cable networks, ID delivers the highest-quality programming to more than 85 million U.S. households and is available in both high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD). For more information, please visit InvestigationDiscovery.com, facebook.com/InvestigationDiscovery, or twitter.com/DiscoveryID. Investigation Discovery is part of Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the world’s #1 pay-TV programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in 220 countries and territories.
SOURCE Investigation Discovery