The district attorney-elect for two Oklahoma counties died five days after winning last week’s election.
Sources told News 9 David Hammer, 47, reportedly died Sunday from a heart attack.
Legal experts said Monday that Governor Kevin Stitt will have to appoint a new district attorney for Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties on Jan. 1, 2023 when the current district attorney’s term expires.
Hammer posted a voting selfie on social media last Tuesday, the day he won the election. Colleague and longtime defense attorney Irven Box said Hammer's passing is a loss for the citizens of the counties he would have served.
“This guy was going to be, I think, a great district attorney,” Box said. “He was involved. His whole attitude was, ‘I want to make the criminal justice system better.’”
The 47-year-old attorney also served as a police officer, prosecutor and most recently operated a law firm in Shawnee.
A July 3 Facebook post confirmed what the community feared. His family asked for prayers after Hammer's sudden death.
“I talked to some friends that said he had chest pains in the morning, and the next thing you (know), it’s two o’clock and he passes away,” Box said. “My heart, prayers, thoughts go out to his five children and his parents. What a loss for them.”
Box said Hammer left behind more than family and friends. He also left a reputation that led to his election victory.
“He was a great guy all around,” Box said. “Respected by law enforcement, by citizens. You can see what kind of vote he got, an overwhelming victory.”
Box predicts that Gov. Stitt will appoint someone who has experience in both counties. He was not certain if a special election will be held.
“I could see him appointing Richard Smothermon, who was the DA there before,” said Box. “(Smothermon is someone) who is on the Pardon and Parole Board. He could step in and fill that spot.”
Hammer won the district attorney primary election with 58% of the vote, beating out incumbent district attorney Allan Grubbs and candidate Tonya Roland.