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Murderer's confession changes again as new witness casts doubt

Richard Glossip during his interview with FOX 25's Phil Cross.
Richard Glossip during his interview with FOX 25's Phil Cross.
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The documentary "Killing Richard Glossip” was more than a year in the making, but the story behind it is two decades old.

RELATED: Timeline of events in Richard Glossip's case

It began with a murder; a brutal attack carried out by Justin Sneed. He beat Barry Van Treese to death with a baseball bat in January 1997.

RELATED: Fox 25 Investigation: Evidence destroyed in Glossip case before any appeal was decided

Sneed would tell police, then prosecutors, and jurors that his boss at the Best Budget Inn, Richard Glossip, told him to carry out the killing.

RELATED: Fox 25 Investigation: Testimony discrepancy uncovered during death penalty trial raise new questions about execution

Sneed is recounting that story again for award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger.

“I was asleep in my room when Mr. Glossip came to my bedroom,” Sneed told Berlinger of the night the murder happened, “Of course he [Glossip] had master keys. All I do is remember waking up to him being in my face.”

“He [Glossip] just became real adamant about how Mr. Van Treese had just showed up and e was willing to up the money to $7500 if I would go kill him then,” Sneed told the filmmaker. “And I was kind of being adamant against it just shaking my head; you know he's standing there poking his finger at me and trying to tell me to just go do it and being real aggressive about it.”

However, there's a problem with that confession.

It has changed.

In fact, between his interrogation and two trials and the few public statement’s he’s made, Sneed's story on Glossip's involvement has evolved. He has never before placed Glossip inside his room. Prior versions of the story involve Glossip calling him on the phone or knocking on his door.

Each time Sneed has told his story he adds to Glossip's involvement.

Sneed told Berlinger that he is not sure why he is even still in prison.

“Do you think you should be in here?” Berlinger asked.

“Do I think I should spend the rest of a natural born life off in the penitentiary? No because we teach our children being honest is the only way anyone can help them out of any type of punishment,” Sneed said. “I wonder what example it sets to younger me even being truthful because then it tells me there is no reward for being truthful.”

Sneed received a life sentence instead of death for brutally beating Van Treese to death. Unlike many other murderers in the Oklahoma prison system, he’s assigned to a medium-security prison.

Berlinger pressed Sneed to find out why he believes his life turned out the way it did.

“You know I've struggled with my own journey in this life and my own reasons why I am where I am for the reasons that I am,” Sneed said. “And the choices that I make a lot of it has to do with me being able to interpret the chapter 12 of Revelations with the symbolism of a dragon and an eagle and just the way my mind opened up to that on four blood morns where everybody was trying to argue whether we should kill this man or not.”

Sneed does not explain further in the documentary how the Biblical passage relates to the crime he committed or his situation behind bars.

His reference is to the Biblical book of Revelations, a book that many Christians believe contains prophesies about the end of the world. Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelations contains a description of the fall of Satan and the war he continually wages against the followers of Jesus.

Sources have told FOX 25 in the past that Sneed has cast himself as something of a religious figure while behind bars.

The state continues to point to Sneed’s testimony as proof he speaks the truth.

Berlinger’s documentary series contains his own revelation, in the form of a new witness.

Glossip’s attorneys tracked down Roger Lee Ramsey, a man who says he was the cellmate of Sneed in 1997 in the Oklahoma County Jail. Ramsey identifies Sneed to the filmmakers through his first mug shot taken after his arrest for first-degree murder.

Ramsey said Sneed acted like a man who was “coming off drugs.” Ramsey said it only took a few hours for Sneed to open up about why he was in jail. According to Ramsey Sneed admitted he was involved in a robbery plot that ended in murder. However, Ramsey said the plot did not involve Glossip.

“Justin never mentioned Glossip's name,” Ramsey told Berlinger. Ramsey said Sneed did say there was an accomplice to his crime, “that was supposedly a girl’s job.” Ramsey said the girl’s job was to “lure” Van Treese into a room at the motel with the intention of the two of them robbing him for drug money.

This testimony is the first documented corroboration of another witness from the original trial. John Prittie testified that he heard the fight that killed Van Treese. He told investigators that he heard arguing that included both a male and female voices.

None of this new information has been presented in court. Glossip’s attorneys say they need more to meet the requirements the courts have set to prove actual innocence. Many witnesses have died, but Glossip’s supporters believe there are others who were at the Best Budget Inn or may have interacted with Sneed over the years.

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Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators through or by the case hotline 844-540-0171.

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