Defender of the death penalty married a man sentenced to death in Oklahoma

MCALESTER, Okla. – Defender of the death penalty Lea Roger says she is aware of the realities facing her and Richard Glossip, whom she married this week in Oklahoma Prison, where he is serving a death sentence.

Glossip, 59, has narrowly escaped execution three times and may be the next man Oklahoma will kill now that the state has lifted a nearly seven-year moratorium on executions imposed by accident in his case and others.

Roger, 32, an assistant lawyer who has spent more than a decade advocating for the abolition of the death penalty, says that’s one of the reasons she didn’t want to waste time marrying her new husband.

“For Rich, who has survived three executions, probably facing a fourth, the only thing he has really taken away from this is: Don’t take anything for granted … really live in the moment,” Roger told the Associated Press. get married Tuesday at a small ceremony at the Oklahoma State Jail.


“I think we’re both doing well, so it was important for us to do that now that we know we can make that commitment to each other,” said Roger of Lutz, Florida, who is now a law student.

In a statement to the AP, Glossip said: “After everything I’ve been through, I’ve lost so much of my life and everyone in it, I’ve been blessed beyond all imagination.

Although marriages of death row inmates are not common, they are also not uncommon, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. He said the decision of the US Supreme Court in the case of “Loving v. Virginia”, which bans bans on interracial marriage, has since been applied to people in prison.

“Marriage is one of the basic personal rights that prisoners retain,” Dunham said.

Some of the most famous prisoners in the country got married after being in prison. Convicted serial killer Ted Bundy married his fiancée while he was sentenced to death in Florida. Eric Menendez and his brother Lyle Menendez, serving life sentences for the 1989 murder of their parents on their Beverly Hills mansion, were both married in prison. Richard Ramirez, the demonic serial killer known as the Night Chaser, who left satanic marks on murder scenes and mutilated the bodies of victims during the reign of terror in the 1980s, married while sentenced to death in California.


In Oklahoma, marriage ceremonies for people in prison are held twice a year, in March and September. The prisoner or fiancée is responsible for all costs associated with the marriage, including court fees and, if necessary, transportation costs if the county requires the couple to sign the county marriage register. Oklahoma does not allow marital visits, even for newlywed prisoners, but Roger said they managed to hold hands and kiss during Tuesday’s ceremony.

This is the second prison marriage for Glossip, who filed for divorce from his first wife Leiha Joy Jurassic of New Jersey, whom he married in 2018 when Jurassic was 21. They divorced last year, and court records show that Jurassic failed to testify until last year’s hearing, in which a judge ordered her to pay Glossip $ 100 a week for 85 weeks to cover a $ 5,000 and $ 3,500 maintenance fine for Glossip’s legal fees. Jurassic did not respond to voicemail or messages seeking comment on her marriage to Glossip.


Glossip is perhaps best known for the remarkable case of the US Supreme Court that bears his name. In 2015, a separate court ruled that the use of the sedative midazolam in lethal injections was constitutional.

The Glossip case has garnered international attention after Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon for her role in the fight against the death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean for rescuing a man sentenced to death in Louisiana in the 1995 film Dead Man Walking d. life. Prejean herself served as Glossip’s spiritual adviser and often visited him in prison.

Glossip was twice convicted and sentenced to death for ordering the assassination of Barry Van Tries in January 1997, who owns the motel in Oklahoma City, where Glossy worked. Prosecutors said Justin Sneed, a motel foreman, admitted to robbing and beating Van Tries, but said he did so only after Glossip promised to pay him $ 10,000. Sneed, who was a key witness against Glossip in both his trials, is currently serving a life sentence without parole.


Glossip was twice within hours of receiving a lethal injection when his execution was canceled. He received a two-week reprieve in September 2015 to give his lawyer time to pursue his innocence. Two weeks later, after the court rejected this, he would be escorted to the execution chamber when prison officials learned they had received the wrong drug for his execution. This led to a nearly seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma, which ended last fall. He is now the leading plaintiff in a federal lawsuit, again challenging the deadly method of injecting the state as unconstitutional. Another lawyer, Don Knight, is trying to overturn his sentence on the basis of an innocence.


Sheila Isenberg, who recently completed the second edition of her 1991 book “Women Who Love Men Who Kill” and has interviewed women who seek connections with convicted murderers, as well as psychiatrists, social workers and prison officials, said that some women are attracted to men who commit particularly heinous crimes, such as serial killers or mass murderers.

“In the case of Richard Glossip, he is neither a serial killer nor a mass murderer, but he is still known,” Isenberg said.

Roger shuddered at the suggestion that Glossip’s fame was what drew her to him. She said she never thought about marriage when she added Glossip to her list of prisoners to whom she sends Christmas cards every year.

Eventually, correspondence through letters gave way to phone calls, and Roger said she and Glossip quickly developed a deep bond.

“We had this instant comfort with each other, as if you’ve known someone all your life,” she recalls.


“It’s not about attention,” she continued. “I am a very personal person. The circumstances in which we find ourselves just happen. I believe that the focus should be on his innocence. He has already lost 25 years of his life. “


Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy.

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Defender of the death penalty married a man sentenced to death in Oklahoma

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