Thursday, December 06, 2001

Killer asks for death penalty


Warren jury recommends execution

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Twice-convicted killer Timothy Hancock asked a jury Wednesday to recommend that he be executed for the strangulation of his cellmate Jason Wagner last year.

        The Warren County jury did so.

Hancock
Hancock
        As Judge Neal Bronson polled the jurors to confirm that they unanimously agreed on the death penalty, Mr. Hancock turned calmly to his crying family members seated in the back of the courtroom.

        “Be cool. It's all right,” he whispered. He nodded to jurors as they finished affirming their recommendation.

        Judge Bronson will decide if the death penalty is appropriate when Mr. Hancock returns to court for sentencing on Dec. 17.

        Jurors also considered prison terms of life with no parole, life with parole eligibility in 25 years, or in 30 years.

        Their decision came after more than six hours of deliberations Wednesday and a day after the same panel rejected Mr. Hancock's insanity plea and found him guilty of aggravated murder with a death specification.

        Mr. Hancock was accused in the Nov. 13, 2000 killing of Mr. Wagner at Warren Correctional Institution. Mr. Wagner, a 25-year-old high-profile inmate, was serving a sentence of 44 years to life in the 1999 abduction, rape and attempted murder of 3-year-old Ashley Taggert in Lancaster.

        In a half-hour unsworn statement before Wednesday's deliberations, Mr. Hancock kept his eyes focused on the jury as he told them he would rather face death than life in prison.

        “Any sentence you give me besides death, is a slow death,” said the 31-year-old inmate. He had refused to allow his family members to speak on his behalf.

        “I don't want to die a slow death, I don't think it's fair to me,” he said.

        Mr. Hancock said he still didn't know exactly why he killed Mr. Wagner but that he wasn't sorry he did.

        “I feel little Ashley Taggert got her justice now. Wagner got his justice. Now, it's on you to give me mine,” he told the jurors.

        Defense attorneys Donald Oda II and Patrick Long had argued against the death penalty, saying Mr. Hancock had been treated for paranoia, schizophrenia and psychosis since his incarceration nearly 12 years ago and had declining mental health since age 11, when he was sexually molested while growing up near Lima, Ohio.

        Mr. Long told jurors that WCI officials bore some accountability in Mr. Wagner's death because they knew Mr. Hancock was a victim of sexual abuse, but still placed him in a cell with a child molester.

        Mr. Hancock had told state troopers investigating the death that he “snapped,” tied Mr. Wagner to the bed and strangled him after Mr. Wagner bragged about the Lancaster incident, made a sexual overture and rubbed his leg.

        However, prosecutors maintained that Mr. Hancock planned the killing so that he could have a cell to himself.

       



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