- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A case against an Oklahoma City man who’s charged with first-degree murder in his wife’s death will largely rely on his confession due to the lack of a body.

Jimmy Hankins, 56, walked into Oklahoma City police headquarters in August and told officers that he had suffocated his wife in July 2014, because “he could no longer live with the guilt,” according to investigators. Despite the confession, Hankins pleaded not guilty Aug. 31 to killing his wife, according to court records.

An autopsy wasn’t performed on Susan Hankins, 58, since no foul play had been suspected in her death, police said. Her body was cremated, so investigators have no way of corroborating Jimmy Hankins’ confession with physical evidence.

Oklahoma County’s Chief Public Defender Robert Ravitz, who confirmed that Hankins is being represented by an attorney in his office, said “it makes it difficult for both sides to determine what in fact happened,” when there isn’t a body.

Although the body is a key piece of evidence in a death investigation, it’s not essential and homicides still can be prosecuted without one, according to First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland.

“Prosecuting a murder case when there is no body is basically the same,” Rowland said. “You just look at the evidence to prove the unlawful death of a human being and that the unlawful death was caused by him.”

Susan Hankins suffered from dementia and other medical conditions. Jimmy Hankins told police that he was tired of caring for his wife, so he decided to kill her to collect life insurance, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1JkKAsY ) reported.

“Any time you have a confession … it’s difficult to overcome that, but obviously we’re going to look at (the defendant’s) mental status and factors that might have contributed to what ultimately happened,” Ravitz said. “We all know that there have been false confessions every year, so the lawyer from our office always has to look at that, too.”


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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