On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend the life of a death row inmate be spared.
According to the Associated Press, the board voted 3-2 in recommending clemency for Phillip Dean Hancock, who has long insisted he shot and killed Robert Jett Jr., 37, and James Lynch, 58, in 2001 out of self-defense after the two attacked him.
The final decision to grant Hancock's clemency now rests on the shoulders of Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt. And the decision is fast approaching as Hancock is slated to receive a lethal injection by Nov. 30.
The board's ruling reflects extensive hearings, which included testimonies from Hancock himself, his legal team, and the victims' families. Interestingly, Hancock's case garnered support from state Reps. Kevin McDugle and Justin Humphrey — both of whom advocate for the death penalty.
According to the AP, Hancock's defense paints a dark picture.
"Hancock's attorneys claim," the AP notes, "that Jett and Lynch were members of outlaw motorcycle gangs who lured Hancock, who was unarmed, to Jett's home and that Jett ordered him to get inside a large cage before swinging a metal bar at him. After Jett and Lynch attacked him, Hancock managed to take Jett's pistol from him and shoot them both."
"If any one of us were in that same exact situation," McDugle said, "we would have fought for our lives."
Nonetheless, state prosecutors have contested Hancock's reliability, pointing toward inconsistencies in his recollection of the events and a mismatch between his testimony and the crime scene's physical evidence.
Still, Assistant Attorney General Joshua Lockett noted that these factors were considered by the jury in their deliberations, leading to a verdict that has been affirmed by multiple levels of the judiciary on appeal.
Nick Koutsobinas ✉
Nick Koutsobinas, a Newsmax writer, has years of news reporting experience. A graduate from Missouri State University’s philosophy program, he focuses on exposing corruption and censorship.
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