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Oklahoma lawmakers push for clemency for death row inmate Phillip Hancock

Rep. Kevin McDugle, left, and Rep. Justin Humphrey speak on behalf of death row inmate Phillip Hancock at a press conference on Oct. 19, 2023. They were joined by former parole board member Adam Luck and Hancock's legal team.
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Rep. Kevin McDugle, left, and Rep. Justin Humphrey speak on behalf of death row inmate Phillip Hancock at a press conference on Oct. 19, 2023. They were joined by former parole board member Adam Luck and Hancock's legal team.

The clemency application for a death row inmate set to be executed next month includes new evidence that supports his claim he acted in self-defense.

Republican Reps. Kevin McDugle and Justin Humphrey held a press conference on Thursday to discuss new evidence in the case of death row inmate Phillip Hancock, who was convicted of killing Robert Jett and James Lynch in 2001. Hancock has always maintained he killed the two men in self-defense after they lured him into Jett’s home and attacked him.

New evidence includes a sworn declaration from Hancock’s ex-girlfriend, Kathy Quick, saying she hired Jett and Lynch to attack Hancock and information about a cage in the house the two men tried to force Hancock inside.

McDugle said this case should not have been tried as a capital case at all.

"If any of you walk into a house that you're lured to. And you're attacked. And you wrestle a gun away from the assailant that attacked you and you shoot them. In today's courts, there's no way that you would be sentenced to death. In fact, there's no way you'd even be put in jail, much less for 20 years," McDugle said.

McDugle and Humphrey, along with former Pardon and Parole Board member Adam Luck, are asking for the Board to recommend clemency for Hancock and for Gov. Kevin Stitt to commute his sentence.

In a statement, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond called the self-defense claim “indefensible.” Drummond pointed to witness testimony saying Jett was fleeing as he was killed.

“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,” wrote Drummond.

Drummond also wrote that it was "telling" that Hancock "made this request almost five years after exhausting all his appeals."

Gov. Stitt and Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna did not immediately return requests for comment.

Hancock is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 30.

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Hannah France started her work in public radio at KBIA while studying journalism at the University of Missouri. While there, she helped develop and produce a weekly community call-in show, for which she and her colleagues won a Gracie Award. Hannah takes interest in a wide variety of news topics, which serves her well as a reporter and producer for KGOU.
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