Midwest City man sentenced to life in prison for killing aunt

Phillip Michael Potts, 24, has admitted killing Violet Hemphill, 64, with an ax and hammer at her Midwest City home; the defendant avoided trial and the possibility of the death penalty.
by Tim Willert Published: August 11, 2012

A Midwest City man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty Friday to killing his 64-year-old aunt with multiple objects, including an ax and a hammer.

Oklahoma County Special Judge Fred D. Doak sentenced Phillip Michael Potts, 24, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Feb. 13 murder of Violet Hemphill inside her Midwest City home.

Potts avoided a trial and the possibility of the death penalty if convicted, as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

He also waived his right to appeal or seek commutation, parole or pardon.

He must first serve the remaining eight years of a 10-year sentence for a 2010 conviction for false impersonation because he was on probation when Hemphill was killed, prosecutors said.

The mother of five was found with a large chest wound and an ax lying by her side, records show. Investigators also recovered a knife handle with a partial blade, red-stained clothing, a red-stained brick, a hammer, a knife and a knife blade, records show.

Hemphill died from multiple sharp force injuries to the head and chest, according to the medical examiner's office.

Potts acknowledged using an ax, a hammer, a brick, multiple table legs and several knives to kill Hemphill, and told Doak he killed his aunt without provocation and acted alone.

Potts, prosecutors alleged, ransacked the house and robbed the victim after killing her.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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