The judge announced the sentence.
Jimmy Lee Hancock hit the floor.
Family members – except for Hancock’s son who moments earlier was forcibly removed from the courtroom after an outburst – rushed to peek over a wooden divider concealing their prostrate loved one.
“I love you, Daddy,” a daughter said.
“I love y’all too,” Hancock weakly responded.
The chaotic scene on Thursday ended a roughly hour-long hearing to determine how the 67-year-old Hancock – a twice convicted sex offender -- should be punished for molesting a then 13-year-old girl in 2017.
In June, the Crockett resident pleaded no contest in Wythe County Circuit Court to one count of object sexual penetration. Before his February 2018 arrest on the latest felony charge, he served time in prison for raping a 12-year-old girl.
According to evidence in the most recent case, Hancock admitted to ordering thong underwear for the girl, now 15, and having her try it on for him when it arrived.
He also said the girl asked him to shave her legs, which he did, before eventually touching her genitals for a few minutes.
Hancock also told investigators “that young girls should not feel safe around him and that he does not feel safe around young girls.”
Testifying for the prosecution, the girl said that she “used to be happy” before the abuse.
“I hated my life and I still do,” she said, admitting to habitually cutting her body in the days that followed.
Asked by defense attorney Jeff Scott if she’d ever be willing to forgive Hancock, she said, “No!”
Scott called three of Hancock’s children to the witness stand to talk about their relationships with their father.
“I don’t want to lose my Daddy,” said David Hancock, who added that his father, who was noticeably thinner, had lost a lot of weight since his arrest.
Before Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Jones could object to his testimony, David Hancock claimed a lot of the victim’s statements were “lies” and that he believed she made the allegation out of “spite.”
“He’s always going to church and tries to do right with the church family,” he said.
Later while seated in the audience, Hancock blurted out that the rape conviction against his father was also a lie before two deputies manhandled him through the courtroom doors into the lobby.
Saying that growing up with her father after his release from prison in 1991 was “normal,” Rosella Blankenship said her father had health issues and was doing “good” in spite of his more-than-100-pound weight loss.
“I’d like for him to come home,” she said.
Calling Jimmy Hancock a humble and serving man, Crossroads Church of Christ minister Brian Taylor said he didn’t learn of Hancock’s criminal past until after his latest arrest.
“He’s been a good friend,” he said.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Jones, though, argued that there was no way to put a positive spin on Hancock’s actions with a helpless 13-year-old and called him a “predator.”
“I ask that you show him no mercy because he has shown his victim no mercy,” Jones said.
Scott, who had a probation officer testify earlier that Jimmy Hancock told her that, as a child, he was sexually molested by a teenage girl, asked Judge Josiah Showalter Jr. to give his client a shorter sentence than suggested by state sentencing guidelines.
“…He needs additional help,” Scott said.
“He will do it again if you let him out,” Jones countered.
Asked if he wanted to make a statement before his sentencing, Hancock apologized to the victim and his family for his “despicable” conduct.
Staying within the guidelines, Showalter sentenced Hancock to 40 years in prison, after which Hancock collapsed to the floor in his jail uniform and shackles.
As police were calling in rescue personnel, Hancock’s children and other family members were escorted out of the courtroom.
Hancock was checked out but wasn’t taken to the hospital.
Being held in the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin, he’ll eventually be moved to a state prison.
Jeffrey Simmons can be reached at 228-6611, extension 19, or email@example.com.