OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The fate of an Oklahoma death-row inmate is under scrutiny. Now, Oklahoma lawmakers and the inmate’s attorney is pushing for new DNA testing and clemency ahead of the execution date.
“Phil thought to himself, ‘If I get in that cage, that’s death,'” said Shawn Nolan, Hancock’s attorney.
In a push to save Philip Hancock’s life six weeks before his execution, his defense attorney, lawmakers, and advocates filed an application for clemency and urged Governor Kevin Stitt to commute his sentence.
Hancock, 59, is scheduled to be executed November 30 for the 2001 murders of Robert ‘Bob’ Jett Jr. and James Lynch.
During the 2004 trial, the district attorney was Bob Macy. Advocates at today’s news conference called his time in office a “scandal-plagued era.”
Two of the lawmakers at the meeting, Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. JJ Humphreys, R-Lane, are also fighting to save another inmate put on death row during Macy’s time in office, Richard Glossip. Although they are both in favor of the death penalty, the two representatives are concerned about the possibility of executing an innocent Oklahoman.
Hancock has always admitted he killed Jett and Lynch, however he claims he killed them to stay alive.
“Self defense. Who came up with murder?” asked Rep. McDugle.
Advocates argue the night of the murder, Hancock was unarmed and lured into the OKC home.
“Jett was armed with a handgun and two knives and was high on methamphetamine,” said Rep. McDugle. “Jett attacked Hancock with a metal bar and ordered him to get into a locked cage.”
“He struggled with these men, got the gun away, and he shot them both,” said Nolan.
“If you try to come and put me in that cage, and you tried to do what they tried to do, I’ll kill you,” said Rep. Humphreys.
On Thursday, advocates released a new signed statement from Hancock’s former girlfriend. She writes the couple got into a fight about drugs. She became angry with him and did not want him to tell her what to do. She wrote, while under the influence, “I impulsively asked Bob if I could pay him a few hundred dollars to get Phil off my back.” She added, “I didn’t tell Phil’s trial team because I was in denial about my roll in all of it.”
Advocates also released a juror’s written statement that said she wish she knew about the girlfriend’s involvement. She wrote, “there is blood on her hands.”
The juror, who was also a trauma nurse, said she wished she had been told about Hancock’s alleged frontal-lobe damage, because she knew how those injuries can impact decision making.
The former juror added, “If there is a chance for this information and evidence to be heard and reviewed by a court, that would be good.”
Nolan said a new DNA test will help prove there was a struggle at the scene of the crime. He believes this new evidence would also sway a jury.
“But, courts have not allowed us in because of the procedural rules that prevent you from going back to court,” said Nolan.
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Advocates said they are urging the new Oklahoma County District Attorney and Oklahoma Attorney General to take another look.
In a statement, Attorney General Gentner Drummond said, “Two Oklahoma courts have carefully considered Phillip Dean Hancock’s request for DNA testing and properly rejected that request. It is telling that Hancock made this request almost five years after exhausting all his appeals. No amount of DNA evidence can prove Hancock’s indefensible claim of self-defense. At trial, Hancock’s own expert contradicted the defendant’s version of events. Hancock pursued an unarmed and injured Robert Jett Jr. into the backyard of Mr. Jett’s home. A witness heard Mr. Jett say, ‘I’m going to die!’ and Hancock respond, ‘Yes, you are!’ before Hancock shot him again. The evidence is clear that Hancock murdered Mr. Jett and James Lynch.”