Defense Details Case of Man Facing Execution in November – Oklahoma Accused Requests Court to Order DNA Testing

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(Editor’s Note: This is a corrected story. The previous version named another law firm, and not Shawn Nolan, as representing Phillip Hancock).

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The defense team for Phillip Hancock – who is on death row here – provided more details this week about Hancock’s case and recent lawsuit for DNA testing to prove his act was self-defense, not murder.

Shawn Nolan, an attorney representing Hancock, argued, “Oklahomans believe in the right of self-defense” (and) “It’s shocking to think that Phil may be executed for defending himself in life-threatening circumstances.”

“This should never have been a murder case at all, let alone a death penalty case,” added Nolan, noting, “Biological evidence in the State’s custody would corroborate Hancock’s account while refuting the State’s theory of the case. But that evidence has never been tested. How can Oklahoma execute Phil without letting us test this evidence that could prove it happened just the way he has always said?”

According to court filings, Hancock is an Oklahoma man convicted of murdering two individuals in 2001 with an end of November execution date. In 2001, Hancock went to Bob Jett’s home after Jett informed Hancock his ex-girlfriend Kathy Quick needed a ride. Quick had told Jett that she wanted him to deal with Hancock because of a disagreement regarding her use of methamphetamine.

The pleadings note when Hancock arrived, J.V. Lynch was also at Jett’s house, and Hancock did not have any firearms on his person. Jett grabbed his firearm and placed it in his pants, demanding Hancock go into a cage while holding a metal bar, details the press release, and when Hancock refused, stating that “there was no way (Jett) could put (him) in a cage and let (him) out” because going inside the cage “equaled death,” Jett attacked him with the metal bar and Lynch later also attacked Hancock and had him in a “chokehold.”

The defense said Hancock then got Jett’s firearm from him and shot both assailants, Lynch collapsing on the floor and Jett running to the backyard. Hancock then went out to the backyard and, seeing Jett, shot him again, details the statement.

But, said Nolan, during the trial, prosecutors asserted Lynch did not assault Hancock, and the prosecution claimed Jett did not pose a danger to Hancock when he shot and killed him in the backyard after the initial shots and failed to mention why Hancock went to Jett’s house, that Lynch and Jett were involved in a motorcycle gang, and what Jett uses the cages for, to hurt and sexually harm those he forces in them.

Quick had said during the trial that Jett “had a cage that was big enough to fit an adult person… The cage was well known for very bad reasons,” said Nolan, adding Hancock’s original legal defense team failed to call out the prosecution’s emphasis that Jett had backed off after he got shot the first time, but Hancock followed Jett outside, which did not follow the evidence of the case.

Hancock’s first defense team, said his current defense, also did not extensively examine Shawn Tarp, Jett’s partner at the time of the incident, when she was on the stand, even though questioning her more would have possibly assisted Hancock in his case.

Dr. Katherine Porterfield, a clinical psychologist, examined Hancock and concluded his reaction to Jett and Lynch’s attack is influenced by the troubles he has suffered in the past such as violent attacks and sexual assault, said defense attorney Nolan, who said the jury was not informed of Jett and Lynch’s history of violence, their involvement with the motorcycle gang, Hancock’s past trauma, or Quick’s involvement.

The jury foreperson from Hancock’s trial has written and signed a declaration indicating she no longer supports her initial decision to convict him and stated, “the jury should have heard that part of the story, if it would change things for Phil,” details Nolan.

According to The Forgiveness Foundation, Hancock’s execution got pushed back to Nov. 30 of this year because Gentner Drummond, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, wanted to extend the time in the middle of each execution since there is not enough staff in the Department of Corrections and it is taking more time to arrange the executions.

Hancock has filed a legal suit requesting DNA testing for some of the evidence from the incident believing that it could determine his reaction to Jett and Lynch’s assault as self-defense.

About The Author

Claire Hsu is an undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Political Science and minoring in Sociology. She is interested in policies related to advocating for API rights and prisoner's rights across California. After graduation, Claire plans on attending law school and pursuing a career in law. She is most passionate about criminal law and intellectual property law.

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