“I know what this crime is worth,” said Comanche County District Attorney Kyle Cabelka while asking for the maximum sentence for Jordan Ray Neconish. “It’s worth Brian Piper’s life.”
In finding a man guilty Thursday of the January 2020 attack of a fellow inmate at the Lawton Correctional Facility, the Comanche County jury would determine the value of the victim’s life as well as the threat of the killer to the public if ever released.
Neconish, 42, was found guilty of three felony counts — first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and possession of contraband — for the killing of Piper, 31, on Jan. 17, 2020, at the Lawton Correctional Facility, 8607 SE Flower Mound Road. The jury recommended he spend the rest of his life in prison with no hope for parole for the murder and two more life sentences for the other counts.
Piper died from 19 stab wounds to his head, neck and upper torso, according to the Medical Examiner’s autopsy report.
Prison security videos allowed the jury to see the maneuvers taken by Neconish made to get into Barrett’s pod. Investigators said he’d made his way through three different prison housing units to reach Piper. Videos showed him pull the knife from his waistband before a flurry of strikes lasting around 30 seconds.
“I want you to think about how long this was for Brian Piper,” Cabelka said to the jury. “Time slowed down. … This was a planned deal and Brian never had a chance.”
Neconish’s defense counsel, Lawrence Corrales, asked jurors to question if it even was his client in the videos. Even if they did believe it was Neconish, without audio or a clearer picture, he asked the jurors to question if the attack was provoked.
“You don’t hear anything, you don’t know what led to that,” he said. “Take into account the entire situation before reaching a verdict.”
After a day-and-a-half of jury selection, testimony and video and still images of the incident, the jury determined Cabelka’s argument Neconish acted as part of a prison gang war between his affiliation with Native Family and Piper’s membership in the Savage Boys clique. Piper’s display of his crew’s tattoo was considered a fatal offense behind prison walls, according to the prosecutor.
On Thursday, the jury learned Neconish’s accomplice, Chance Carl Barrett, 25, pleaded guilty to the same charges and received a life sentence; he was already serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder conviction. After finding Neconish guilty and before the sentencing deliberations, they learned his criminal record.
Cabelka read Neconish’s record into the evidence before sentencing consideration. Neconish has five felony convictions since 2010 beginning with possession of contraband by a jail inmate, rioting, assault and battery by means likely to endanger a life, possession of a firearm by a convicted felony, and possession of a weapon in prison.
“Five times this defendant broke the law,” he said. “How many times does this defendant get another chance?”
Piper was behind bars for methamphetamine and weapons convictions. He was to serve 15 years. Cabelka said it served as a death sentence. He reminded Piper was the victim.
Cabelka asked the jury to consider the life Neconish has chosen by remaining in the criminal world and becoming involved in his prison gang.
“This is the life he signed up for,” he said, “let’s give it to him.”
After asking for a pre-sentence investigation, Neconish will return to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester until returning Aug. 8 for his formal sentencing. A life sentence is mandatory for the murder conviction.