Oklahoma City archbishop urges governor to grant clemency to convicted murderer

The 59-year-old Hancock was convicted of shooting and killing two men in Oklahoma City in 2001. At a hearing this week, Hancock testified that he was originally unarmed and was lured into a trap. The men were trying to kill him and force him into a large cage, he said, and he gained control of one of their guns to defend himself. 

Several family members of the victims testified at the hearing and urged the panel not to recommend clemency. The attorney general’s office has stood by Hancock’s conviction, and he is scheduled to die by lethal injection Nov. 30, barring the governor’s intervention. 

Stitt has granted a death row inmate clemency on only one occasion in the past. In 2021, at the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation, he commuted Julius Jones’ death sentence to life in prison. Coakley praised the decision at the time as displaying “tremendous courage.” 

Stitt has rejected the board’s recommendations on two occasions in the past, most recently in August 2022.

Coakley, who sits on the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, frequently speaks out in favor of life sentences for those sentenced to death in Oklahoma, which has seen a surge of executions in recent years.

He most recently called the September execution of convicted murderer and rapist Anthony Sanchez “fundamentally at odds with the culture of life the state of Oklahoma proclaims to be building.”

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