A Notable Death Row Inmate Weds

Richard Glossip marries for the second time in prison
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2022 10:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 3, 2022 3:45 PM CDT
A Notable Death Row Inmate Weds
This Feb. 19, 2021, photo provided by Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Richard Glossip. Glossip has tied the knot in prison.   (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)

Anti-death penalty advocate Lea Rodger says she is keenly aware of the realities facing her and Richard Glossip, who she married Tuesday inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary where he sits on death row. Glossip, 59, already has narrowly escaped execution three times and could be the next man Oklahoma puts to death now that the state has lifted a nearly seven-year moratorium on executions. Rodger, 32, a Florida paralegal and law student who has spent more than a decade advocating for an end to capital punishment, says she never even considered marriage when she added Glossip to a list of prisoners she sends Christmas cards to each year, reports the AP.

Ultimately, correspondence via letters gave way to phone calls, and Rodger said she and Glossip quickly developed a deep connection. "We had that instant comfort with each other, like you’ve known someone your whole life," she recalled. In a statement provided to the AP, Glossip said: "After all I have been through, losing so much of my life and everyone in it, I have been blessed beyond all imagination." Although marriages of death row inmates don't happen often, they aren't completely unusual either: The Supreme Court's ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which prohibits bans on interracial marriages, has since been applied to people in prison.

Some of the most notorious inmates in the country have married after being imprisoned. Convicted serial killer Ted Bundy married his fiancee while on death row in Florida. Erik Menendez and his brother, Lyle Menendez, serving life sentences for murdering their parents in 1989 in their Beverly Hills mansion, both were married in prison. In Oklahoma, marriage ceremonies for people who are incarcerated are conducted twice a year, in March and September. Oklahoma does not allow conjugal visits, even for newly married inmates, but Rodger said they were able to hold hands and kiss during Tuesday's ceremony.

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It is the second prison marriage for Glossip, who filed for divorce from his first wife, Leigha Joy Jurasik, of New Jersey, who he married in 2018 when Jurasik was 21. They divorced last year. Glossip was twice convicted and sentenced to die for ordering the January 1997 killing of Barry Van Treese, who owned the Oklahoma City motel where Glossip worked. Prosecutors said Justin Sneed, a motel handyman, admitted robbing and beating Van Treese, but said he did so only after Glossip promised to pay him $10,000. Sneed, who was the key witness against Glossip at both of his trials, is currently serving a life sentence without parole. A lawyer is seeking to overturn Glossip's conviction based on a claim of innocence. (Glossip has eaten the same "last meal" three times.)

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