Listen to this article here
Daniel Triplett, a former Guthrie, Oklahoma city councilman and business owner, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his employee and burying his body underneath a septic tank.
A saga of murder and trauma has transformed into the healing phase for the family of Brent Mack after his killer’s sentencing.
“I think it’s too good for him. I asked for the death penalty,” Troy Franklin Smith, the brother of Brent Mack and a Tulsa fire captain, told The Black Wall Street Times in April ahead of the June sentencing hearing in front of Logan County Judge Phillip C. Corley.
Mack, who was an employee at Triplett’s septic tank installation company, was found dead in a hole where the two were installing a tank in October 2021. His daughter had reported him missing in September after not hearing from him for nine days.
A law enforcement investigation ultimately found work records belonging to Triplett that showed the two had worked on a job together the day Mack disappeared. While Triplett told investigators that Mack had quit and parted ways, surveillance footage at the home of the installation showed both men going down into the 13-foot hole. Only Triplett came back out.
“Triplett thought Brent Mack was a nobody. He didn’t realize Brent Mack had a family that loved him,” Justice for Greenwood and civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons told The Black Wall Street Times in April.
A trial of trauma leads to life in prison
Triplett faced one count of first-degree murder and desecration of a human corpse. Despite the serious nature of the charges, however, Triplett’s case gained national attention after he was released on a $500,000 bond.
To put that in perspective, unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters were given million dollar bonds when they were charged with domestic terrorism during the George Floyd uprising.
Meanwhile, Triplett went on to violate the terms of his bond three times, once on Dec. 15, 2021, and twice on Jan. 4, 2022.
Civil rights leaders from the NAACP and BLM pressured the trial judge, Special Judge Susan Worthington, to revoke his bond. Following the public outrage, his bond was revoked.
“She didn’t take into account our feelings that our loved one was shot in the back and buried in the hole,” Smith told The Black Wall Street Times.
In April, Triplett was found guilty on both charges. The jury took just two hours to deliberate, the Mack family says.
“What they did to Brent Mack is what the folks in McCurtain County wanted to do,” attorney Solomon-Simmons said, referring to a state and federal investigation into the McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy and other officials who were recorded discussing desires to kill a journalist, bury his body in a hole and lynch Black people.
On June 16, Judge Corley sentenced Triplett to once count of life without parole and one count of seven years for first-degree murder and desecration of a human corpse, according to court documents.
A family still healing
For the family of Brent Mack, the journey to healing couldn’t begin until justice was served.
Smith described his brother Mack as a man who was passionate about everything he did, including supporting his family, but most of all his grandkids.
“That’s what hurts me the most, those grandkids loved him,” Smith said. “The only thing he had was his car. He was going give it to his grandson. His dream was to fix his car for his grandson. That’s the type of guy he was.”