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Former Tulsa Police Officer Convicted in Death of his Daughter's - KOAM TV 7

Former Tulsa Police Officer Convicted in Death of his Daughter's Boyfriend

Updated:

      A former Tulsa Oklahoma police officer is convicted of first-degree manslaughter for the shooting death of his daughter's boyfriend.
    Jurors reached a verdict for a lesser charge late Wednesday in ex-Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler's first-degree murder trial. The jury recommended a sentence of 15 years in prison.   Three previous trials had ended with hung juries.
    Kepler was off-duty when he shot 19-year-old Jeremey Lake in August 2014. Kepler told investigators he fired because he thought Lake had a gun, but police found no weapon at the scene or on Lake.
    Kepler said he was trying to protect his daughter, Lisa Kepler, because she was living in a crime-ridden neighborhood.
    In closing arguments, prosecutors said Kepler set out to "hunt" down Lake and picked the time and location of the confrontation.
    Defense attorney Richard O'Carroll accused prosecutors of pursuing a "political" case against Kepler and says he has been "unequivocal" in three previous trials that he saw Lake armed.
    Jurors left a Tulsa courtroom to begin deliberations shortly after 5:20 pm Wednesday.  They returned their verdict around six hours later.
    Jurors in Kepler's previous three trials deadlocked 11-1, 10-2 and 6-6, forcing the judge to declare mistrials.
    Although they couldn't decide on the murder charge, jurors in the first trial convicted Kepler of recklessly using his firearm.
    The issue of race had become an undercurrent in each of Kepler's previous three trials.  Kepler is white and Lake was black.  Only one African-American had been selected for each previous jury, prompting accusations by civil rights activists that Kepler's attorneys were purposely trying to exclude potential black candidates.
    Another racial element had been recently added to the case when Kepler argued that he couldn't be tried by state prosecutors because he's a member of an American Indian tribe. A judge determined the fourth trial in less than a year could move forward in state court. Kepler says he's 1/128th Muscogee (Creek).

    
    

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