(StraightNews.org) – The state of Oklahoma executed a convicted killer on November 30, dismissing claims that he had acted in self-defense. Phillip Dean Hancock died by lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary after Republican Governor Kevin Stitt rejected last-minute appeals to commute his sentence. The execution took place an hour later than planned as officials awaited Mr. Stitt’s final order.
“These are always painfully difficult decisions to make, and I don’t take this responsibility lightly,” the Governor said.
In his final statement, Hancock referred to prosecutors as “vile” and “virtueless” for rejecting his defense that he shot and killed Robert Jett Jr. and James Lynch in self-defense, despite witness testimony that backed up his claim.
The incident occurred in Oklahoma City in 2001, where Hancock claims Jett, an alleged gang member, lured him to his home and ordered him to enter a cage. A witness said Jett swung a large metal bar at Hancock, and a scuffle took place, during which Hancock prized a gun from Jett and shot him and Lynch. “They forced me to fight for my life,” he said. The state, however, said the physical evidence did not match Hancock’s defense, and his credibility was damaged by varying accounts of what had taken place.
Oklahoma has executed the second-highest number of convicts (behind Texas) in the US since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1976 and has the highest rate per capita of any state. The Sooner State was also the first to execute prisoners using lethal injection, which was introduced in 1977.
The punishment is applicable in murder cases if the defendant has a previous violent conviction, has killed or created a risk of death to more than one person, the killing was carried out in an attempt to evade lawful capture, was committed in exchange for payment, or was considered particularly heinous or cruel. A jury must unanimously agree to execute a convict, or the sentence is reduced to life in prison.
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