Death Row Inmate's Execution Now Up To Governor Stitt

A death row inmate has been recommended for clemency, but it is up to Governor Stitt to make the final decision.

Wednesday, November 8th 2023, 5:16 pm

In a 3-2 vote today, clemency was recommended for death row inmate Phillip Hancock. Hancock was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of Robert Jett and James Lynch in an Oklahoma City home in 2001.

Hancock was convicted of the murders in 2004, and has spent almost two decades on Oklahoma death row. 

“This is a self defense case, pure and simple. At worst, it was manslaughter but in either case it was not murder and it was certainly not a capital crime,” said a member of Hancock’s defense.

Hancock has always claimed that he killed Jett and Lynch out of self-defense. During today’s clemency hearing Hancock appeared over video from the state penitentiary, and continued to say that he acted in self-defense in 2001.

“I was absolutely terrified for my life. I had never felt so alone. Bob gave me no choice. He forced me to defend myself. I was in a life or death situation and I did not provoke in any way whatsoever,” said Hancock.

He expressed his remorse for what he had done, but said that if he didn’t kill the men, they would have killed him.

“I asked the creator to forgive Hancock for his deeds but I would never forget what he had stolen from me and all the others that knew JV,” said Lynch’s brother.

Family members of both victims spoke at today’s hearing, saying the deaths and years of court dates have taken a toll on their lives.

“None of this will bring my brother back. Justice needs to be served to put an end to this recurring nightmare so that our families can start to move forward with our lives,” said Lynch’s sister.

The state pointed to Hancock's criminal history, saying he had used a claim of self-defense in a prior attack and murder that he was ultimately not convicted of.

“His self defense claim has been rejected time and time again because nothing supported it. His shifting stories did nothing to help him on that front either and the fact that he continues to hold fast to that claim tells you something about his remorse or lack- there-of,” said a member of the Attorney General’s office.

They argued that Hancock did not deserve the mercy of clemency.

“The jury heard and knew plenty and they still rejected Hancock's claim of self defense; the state and federal courts rejected it, and this board should too,” said a member of the Attorney General’s office.

Hancock's defense pointed to childhood trauma, an unblemished record during Hancock's prison time, missing evidence in the original trial - and Hancock's claim of self-defense.

“That's what we've been saying all along and hopefully the governor sees that as well,” said Shawn Nolan, Hancock’s attorney.

Governor Stitt’s office said in a statement, “After receiving the recommendation from the Pardon and Parole Board, the Governor’s office will begin our internal processes to determine what further action should be taken. This includes a careful review of materials submitted and interviews with the prosecution, defense and the victim’s family.”

Attorney General Gentner Drummond said in a statement, he is “disappointed in the outcome but respects the Board’s decision.”

If Stitt does not grant clemency, Hancock is set to be executed on November 30th.


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