A prisoner who survived an execution attempt because of a mistake with a lethal injection drug is getting married today – almost three years on from his brush with death.

Richard Glossip's bride-to-be is 33 years younger than him, and admits that her family initially opposed the wedding.

Glossip was due to die on 30 September 2015 – his third execution date that year.

But after all legal appeals were exhausted, and an hour after he was scheduled to be put to death, the execution was called off because a pharmacist had supplied the wrong drug.

Image: Leigha Jurasik is to marry a man on death row

It was the latest in a series of botched executions in Oklahoma, and the state has now abandoned lethal injections as its preferred method of execution.

Work is now under way to start using nitrogen gas to kill death row prisoners. If it succeeds in perfecting the process, Glossip would become the first prisoner in the US to die using this method.

Glossip was convicted of arranging for an employee to murder their boss, motel owner Barry Van Treese. He has always maintained his innocence, and there was no forensic evidence to prove his guilt.

Several appeal court judges agreed with his lawyers' submissions, but a majority of judges voted to uphold the sentence and rejected clemency.

Today, his 21-year-old fiancee Leigha Jurasik will be escorted into the death row section of Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

The prison staff will supervise a brief ceremony in which they will be allowed to touch for the first time. Previously they've been separated by bars and thick glass.

After the wedding they will have 30 minutes together, overseen by guards.

Miss Jurasik, a student from New Jersey who is training to work as an undertaker in a funeral home, began writing to Glossip having read about his case.

She says neither the age difference nor his pending execution were obstacles.

She said: "When you love someone, you love someone, trivial stuff like that doesn't bother you. He's innocent he should not be there, but it's never been a deterrence in our relationship."

The 21-year-old started writing to Richard Glossip after reading about his case
Image: The 21-year-old started writing to Richard Glossip after reading about his case

Of her family's reaction, she said: "They were shocked about it at first especially given his notoriety and all the publicity that's followed his case. The age difference was a thing, but over time they've come to accept it.

"My mom has probably been the most accepting and she wrote to him herself and wanted to get to know him better and ask him questions.

"They've come to accept it but of course there are family members who don't agree with it but that's pretty much in any relationship."

Speaking from his prison cell, Glossip called his future wife "an incredible person".

He added: "She's been there through all the tough times. I'm in one of the worst places a human being could ever be put, and yet she somehow gave me one of the best years I've ever had in my life."

When asked why anyone would want to marry someone on death row, he replied: "I don't know how to explain it because I've asked her a million times, why would she be interested in somebody like in me when she could have anyone out there?

"But to her it's not about the freedom, it's the connection that she and I have."

In his first public comments since Oklahoma decided to pursue nitrogen gas as a way of resuming executions, Glossip told Sky News: "A lot of people say it's going to be more humane, but not everybody is going to lay down and let it happen to them, especially people who are innocent.

"No innocent man is going to lay on a table and say 'go ahead and kill me, I'm cool with it'. If you do, you were never innocent in the first place."

Glossip was due to be killed by lethal injection in September 2015 but it did not go ahead due to an execution blunder
Image: Glossip was due to be killed by lethal injection in September 2015 but it did not go ahead due to an execution blunder

Oklahoma's attorney general Mike Hunter says it's a well-known method of assisted suicide, but Glossip says that is very different to an execution.

"Using gas is no different than suffocating somebody, or drowning somebody. It's the same thing.

More from Oklahoma

"When they use the example of assisted suicide, that's somebody who wants to die because they're very sick and they're tired of being in pain.

"There's a difference between somebody who wants to die, and somebody who doesn't want to die," he said.

Original Article


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