An Oklahoma court has granted a last-minute stay of execution to death row inmate Richard Glossip, sentenced to die for the 1997 fatal beating of a motel owner.
The two-week reprieve was announced on Wednesday (local time) about three hours before 52-year-old Glossip - who has long proclaimed his innocence - was set to die by lethal injection.
"In order for this court to give fair consideration to the materials included with his subsequent application for post-conviction relief, we hereby GRANT an emergency stay of execution for two weeks," the order issued by the Oklahoma criminal appeals court said.
Glossip has won support from a number of celebrities, including actress Susan Sarandon and billionaire Richard Branson.
He also has garnered attention for his failed bid to ban a controversial drug used in lethal injections. The Supreme Court upheld the use of the drug midazolam in June, saying it does not violate the US Constitution.
Glossip's lawyers produced new evidence earlier this week, but Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said it was not "credible evidence" of his innocence and refused to delay his execution.
"My office will respect whatever decision the court makes, as we have throughout this process," Fallin said after the stay was announced.
"As I have repeatedly said, court is the proper place for Richard Glossip and his legal team to argue the merits of his case," she added.
Glossip, who worked at the motel, was found guilty of recruiting another employee, Justin Sneed, who was just 19 at the time, to carry out the actual murder of owner Barry Van Treese.
Glossip was convicted based on the testimony of Sneed, who pleaded guilty and was able to negotiate a life sentence, claiming his co-worker had masterminded the plot.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to the Van Treese family who has suffered greatly during this long ordeal," Fallin said.