State of Oklahoma executes fourth death-row inmate of 2023

McALESTER, Okla. (KFOR) – The state of Oklahoma executed Phillip Hancock on Thursday, November 30, at 11:29 a.m.

Hancock is the fourth execution of 2023 to be carried out in Oklahoma.

RELATED NEWS: Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommends clemency for death row inmate

He was sentenced to death for the murders of Robert ‘Bob’ Jett Jr. and James Lynch. He was convicted of Murder in the First Degree in Oklahoma County.

The case dates back to 2001, when an unarmed Hancock went over to Robert Jett Jr.’s Oklahoma City home.

Officials say Jett and his friend, James Lynch, were high on meth.

“My brother was not an angel, but he was not a monster,” said Ryan Jett, the victim’s brother.

Later that night, the defense said Jett, who was armed with a loaded gun, became enraged after Hancock said he smoked one of his cigarettes. Jett grabbed a metal bar and told Hancock to get into a cage in the small room.

A witness, whom Hancock never harmed, saw everything.

“And [Jett] told him ‘I told you to get in the cage,’ and he was standing right over him. And the guy, he didn’t say nothing, fight him, or nothing,” said Shawn “Smokey” Tarp in a police interview never viewed in court. “He wasn’t kidding at that point.”

Prosecutors said Jett then calmed down and walked away. That’s when prosecutors claim Hancock attacked Jett then Lynch.

RELATED NEWS: ‘Self defense’: Advocates reveal new evidence in push for clemency for death-row inmate

The witness hid and told investigators she heard her two friends being shot by Hancock, but defense attorneys have a different version of what happened that night.

Hancock claims as Jett began to wield the metal bar, Hancock lunged for Jett’s gun. A fight between all three men ensued.

“If someone tries to put me in a cage, if someone tries to swing a pipe at me, somebody’s going to die that day,” Representative Kevin McDugle R-Broken Arrow, told the Pardon and Parole Board Wednesday.

Hancock claimed he grabbed Jett’s gun and shot at him before Jett ran outside. Hancock then shot Lynch before running after Jett.

However, prosecutors said gun shot wounds don’t match Hancock’s story. They also said there were no signs of a struggle in the small room.

Hancock drove off. He never called police and never sought medical attention.

In October, Oklahoma lawmakers and Hancock’s attorney pushed for new DNA testing and clemency ahead of the execution date. His defense attorney, lawmakers, and advocates filed an application for clemency and urged Governor Kevin Stitt to commute his sentence. They said his life should be spared for acting in self defense.

RELATED NEWS: ‘I had to defend myself that day’: Clemency recommended for death-row inmate set for Nov. 30 execution

The request for DNA testing was later denied.

“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,” said Attorney General Gentner Drummond in October.

Following Hancock’s execution, one of his attorneys released a statement:

The state of Oklahoma unlawfully killed Phillip Hancock today in spite of a recommendation for clemency from the Board. Governor Stitt unconscionably declined to stop the execution, ignoring the unwavering support of many of his allies including Republican State Representatives Kevin McDugle and Justin “JJ” Humphrey and State Senator David Bullard.

We are profoundly sad that Oklahoma executed Phil for protecting himself from a violent attack. This was a clear case of self-defense and the Governor and the state ignored a wealth of evidence showing that Phil was fighting for his life. He fought to stay out of a cage to defend his life only to be caged and tragically killed by the state.

Phil had an exemplary record over the twenty years that he was housed on death row. He was a caring son and devoted brother. The tragedy of this killing is outrageous, and all Oklahomans should be ashamed. May Phil rest in peace.

Shawn Nolan, attorney for Phillip Hancock

On Thursday, AG Drummond commented:

“Justice has been served for the murders of Robert Jett and James Lynch. I hope today brings a measure of peace to the families of the men whose lives were tragically cut short by Phillip Dean Hancock.”

Gentner Drummond, Oklahoma Attorney General

Gov. Stitt denied clemency shortly before the scheduled execution on Thursday.

Hancock is Oklahoma’s final execution for 2023 after the executions of Scott Eizember on January 12, Jemaine Cannon on July 20 and Anthony Sanchez on September 21.

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