‘Crime of Passion’ Shannon Kepler Juror Speaks Out About Convicting The Tulsa Police Officer

Jurors believed that Shannon Kepler made a mistake and didn’t intend to kill his estranged daughter’s boyfriend “in cold blood,” the foreperson said of the jury’s choice to convict him of manslaughter in the former Tulsa police officer’s fourth murder trial.

The jury deliberated for about six hours on Oct. 18 before recommending that Kepler, 57, spend 15 years in prison and pay a $10,000 fine for killing 19-year-old Jeremey Lake in 2014. Kepler was on trial for murder for the fourth time in less than a year, as three previous juries had been unable to unanimously agree on a verdict.

In an interview with the Tulsa World on Wednesday, foreperson Sarah Arroyo said the jury determined that Kepler was guilty of a crime the night he shot Lake, who had just begun dating Kepler’s estranged daughter, Lisa Kepler. However, Arroyo said the group was not able to agree that prosecutors met all the legal elements required to prove that he committed first-degree murder.

“We kind of believed that because it was something that happened so close to home, he made a mistake,” Arroyo said of the killing, which she termed a “crime of passion rather than something in cold blood.”

“He was caught up, and we believed his background contributed to that a little bit, and (also) his home life and his career. He just let the situation get the best of him.”

Arroyo added that the jurors, who at one point were 9-3 in favor of a murder conviction, were “pretty grateful” to have a lesser-included offense as an option, saying “there’s a good chance it could have ended up with another hung jury” otherwise.

“There was just nothing that we could see that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was or was not self-defense,” she said. “Some of us had a hard time putting someone in prison for the rest of their life on conjecture.”

Kepler testified in each of his four trials that he shot Lake with his old Tulsa Police Department service revolver because he saw Lake with a gun. At least seven other witnesses said they did not see Lake with a gun or find one on or near his body.

Lake’s background became an issue as the mistrials mounted in part because prosecutors alleged that lead defense attorney Richard O’Carroll repeatedly intentionally sought to have all potential black jurors excused during jury selection.

Lake, who was biracial, identified as black. Kepler is white but has cited Muscogee (Creek) Nation ancestry as his basis for unsuccessfully asking that the case be moved to federal court.

District Judge Sharon Holmes ruled against the dismissal of a black juror in Kepler’s first and fourth trials, saying she noticed a pattern of the defense striking jurors based on race. The defense denied doing so.

Each of Kepler’s trials had one black person who participated in deliberations. Arroyo, who is Hispanic, said the final jury was made up of people with a wide variety of life experiences who were each able to “bring something to the table” while they debated.

She said the jurors left feeling “pretty satisfied” about their decision to find Kepler guilty of first-degree manslaughter and thought the sentence was “the most fair we could be in that situation.”

For full story visit: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/courts/he-made-a-mistake-shannon-kepler-juror-speaks-out-about/article_5eb4a451-0935-5cfd-a69a-41d21712e4b5.html

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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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