Tulsa Police Officer Faces Fourth Trial Charged With Killing Daughter’s Boyfriend

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Former Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler will stand trial a fourth time on a first-degree murder charge, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced Monday.

Three previous trials have ended with hung juries.

In a statement Monday, Kunzweiler said he made the decision after he consulted with the Tulsa Police Department and came to an agreement with the agency that prosecution of the case should proceed.

But Kepler’s lead defense attorney, Richard O’Carroll, expressed frustration with the decision in part because of his belief that “the evidence isn’t going to get better” for the state and because he’s never heard of a case in Tulsa County that went to trial four times on the same charge.

Kepler, 57, is charged with fatally shooting 19-year-old Jeremey Lake on Aug. 5, 2014, outside the teenager’s aunt’s home in the 200 block of North Maybelle Avenue. Lake had just begun a romantic relationship with Kepler’s estranged daughter, Lisa Kepler, which she reported on her Facebook page the afternoon of his death.

“As I have stated previously, the very nature of our criminal justice system is premised upon the finality of a verdict. Mr. Kepler deserves that, and so does Jeremey Lake’s family,” Kunzweiler said in a statement.

O’Carroll told the Tulsa World the jurors’ votes during the mistrials in November, February and earlier this month show that the prosecution is “losing ground” in proving that Shannon Kepler committed a crime at all. District Judge Sharon Holmes allowed the jury during Kepler’s third trial to consider a lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter, but the jury notified her that it was deadlocked 6-6 after just 2½ hours of deliberations.

Kepler is free on a $750,000 pretrial bond on the murder count as well as a $100,000 appeal bond while the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reviews his November convictions for reckless conduct with a firearm. The jury in Kepler’s first trial found him guilty of those counts, which were lesser-included charges on felony counts of shooting with intent to kill, and recommended that he spend a year in jail.

The November and February juries were hung 11-1 and 10-2 in favor of guilt, respectively, and neither was allowed to consider manslaughter as a lesser-included offense.

“I look at this to be ‘the fight,’ and it’s gonna be a hard one, and I want the case tried quickly,” O’Carroll said. “(Kunzweiler) has had enough of dangling this over Mr. Kepler’s head. He’s tried this three times.”

He added later that he believed that the decision to continue prosecuting Kepler was “frankly a last-ditch effort” for Kunzweiler’s political career following the May 17 acquittal of soon-to-be former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby.

“If he walks away from this, it’s over. It’s a political decision. It’s a rash decision, and it’s not founded in fact,” O’Carroll said.

Kepler testified at each of his trials that he shot Lake in self-defense after seeing the teenager carrying a gun. However, eight witnesses — including other officers, Lake’s neighbors and his younger brother — told the jury they did not see Lake with a gun, nor was one recovered from the shooting site.

O’Carroll has implied that a witness to the shooting took the gun from Lake before police arrived and somehow disposed of it, possibly in a Tulsa Police Department interview room trash can. Police found a gun there the day after the shooting but reported finding no evidence that tied it to Kepler’s case, which prompted Holmes to prohibit the defense from telling the jury about the weapon’s recovery.

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O’Carroll has moved multiple times to have Holmes recused from the case. The Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday denied the most recent request, which O’Carroll filed June 28 following a denial from Presiding District Judge Rebecca Nightingale.

For the full article visit: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/courts/fourth-trial-coming-for-former-tulsa-police-officer-charged-with/article_4d310555-e27f-57ce-831a-cbbb57c580ff.html

Source: http://www.tulsaworld.com

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Filming Cops
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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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