Death row inmate Richard Glossip's execution was reset Tuesday to May 18.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals also rescheduled the execution dates of six other convicted murderers.
The change came after the new attorney general, Gentner Drummond, told the court last week that "the current pace of executions is unsustainable in the long run."
Drummond asked the court to give the Oklahoma Department of Corrections 60 days between executions rather than 30 "to alleviate the burden on DOC personnel."
Glossip, the most high-profile of the state's death row inmates, had been scheduled for execution on Feb. 16. He maintains he was framed for murder.
"This does not change the fact that an innocent man is still on death row and facing execution," his attorney, Don Knight, said after the court order became public.
"We look forward to using the time we now have to work with the State to fully investigate Rich's wrongful conviction. We know that no one in Oklahoma wants to execute an innocent man."
The Court of Criminal Appeals made the change after finding "good cause" exists for the attorney general's request although one judge made clear he agreed to the new dates reluctantly
"The major complaint in the application of the death penalty is the amount of time it takes to complete the carrying out of the sentence to provide finality for crime victims and their families," Judge Gary Lumpkin wrote. "The DOC has used the current schedule several times. The protocol is the same with each execution; therefore, no additional time between them should be necessary.
"Changing the time between executions does not assist in addressing the finality of the sentence or provide the closure victims seek in this process."
Drummond called for the change after attending the Jan. 12 execution of Scott Eizember at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He said last week he visited with family members of murder victims before making the request.
"I am grateful for the Court's ruling," Drummond said Tuesday in a news release. "This decision will help maintain confidence in our protocol in this solemn and important process.
"The dedicated individuals of the Department of Corrections will continue their rigorous training and preparations for upcoming executions. As I have stated before, this was not a request I took lightly. Victims' families have waited many years to see that justice is done, and I am thankful for their understanding."
Glossip, 59, is facing execution for the murder of his boss, Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. The Court of Criminal Appeals in November rejected two new challenges to his conviction.
His boss was found beaten to death in Room 102 of his motel, the Best Budget Inn, on Jan. 7, 1997. Van Treese was 54 and lived in Lawton.
A motel maintenance man, Justin Sneed, confessed to killing Van Treese with a baseball bat. He said Glossip pressured him into doing it and offered him $10,000 as payment. He testified against Glossip at two trials.
Glossip's attorneys claim Sneed actually killed the motel owner during a botched robbery for drug money. They claim he framed Glossip to avoid getting the death penalty himself. They claim Sneed, a meth addict, made admissions in jail and later in prison about framing Glossip and also has talked of recanting his testimony.
Glossip's supporters include actress Susan Sarandon and dozens of state lawmakers.
The most outspoken of his supporters at the Capitol has been Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow. "Who will take responsibility for this travesty? Where is the backbone that will stand for justice?" McDugle wrote in a guest column for The Oklahoman in November. "The members of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals have let us all down."
The Court of Criminal Appeals on July 1 scheduled executions for 25 inmates after they lost a legal challenge to the lethal injection protocol. Four executions have been carried out since then. One set for December did not happen because the inmate, John Fitzgerald Hanson, remains in federal prison.
Four inmates were executed earlier under a 2021 court order.
Judges on Tuesday only reset seven executions. They plan to address the dates for the remaining executions "at an appropriate time in the future."
The other inmates and their new dates are:
Jemaine Cannon on July 20 for fatally stabbing his girlfriend at her Tulsa apartment in 1995 after escaping from a state Corrections Department work center. He is 51.
Anthony Castillo Sanchez on Sept. 21 for murdering University of Oklahoma ballerina Juli Busken in Norman in 1996 after raping her. He is 44.
Phillip Hancock on Nov. 30 for fatally shooting two men in Oklahoma City in 2001. He is 58.
James Ryder on Feb. 1, 2024, for bludgeoning a 70-year-old woman to death in 1999 at her Pittsburg County home over a property dispute. He is 60.
Michael Dewayne Smith on April 4, 2024, for two fatal shootings in Oklahoma City in 2002. He is 40.
Wade Lay on June 6, 2024, for fatally shooting a Tulsa bank guard during an attempted robbery in 2004. He is 61. His execution will be called off if a jury in May finds him mentally incompetent.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma pushes back execution dates for Richard Glossip, 6 others