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Man To Stand Trial In The Murder Of A Tulsa Businessman

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Businessman Neal Sweeney was shot and killed in his east Tulsa office last year. Businessman Neal Sweeney was shot and killed in his east Tulsa office last year.
Terrico Bethel is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Neal Sweeney. Terrico Bethel is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Neal Sweeney.
Dolan Prejean says Terrico Bethel confessed to him for the second time that he was hired to kill Sweeney and says Bethel named three others involved. Dolan Prejean says Terrico Bethel confessed to him for the second time that he was hired to kill Sweeney and says Bethel named three others involved.

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The preliminary hearing for a man accused of killing a well-known Tulsa businessman concluded Monday afternoon.

Terrico Bethel, 23, was bound over for trial during the hearing Monday in Tulsa County District Court. 

Bethel is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney.  Sweeney was shot and killed in his east Tulsa office last year.

8/7/2009  Related Story: Court Hearing For Terrico Bethel Postponed

A man who calls himself a former five-star general of the Hoover Crips street gang was the star witness for the prosecution Monday. He said he wore a hidden microphone in the Tulsa County jail and Terrico Bethel confessed to him.

Tulsa Police have said from the beginning this was a contract killing, or murder for hire. A witness testified that Terrico Bethel was paid $5,000 to kill Neal Sweeney.

Sweeney's business, Retail Fuels, had sued a couple for not paying their fuel bill for their Tulsa convenience store. The witness says that was the reason for the hit.

The News On 6 was there when Dolan Prejean was arrested in March on outstanding warrants for burglary and unauthorized use of a credit card. Police said he was hiding underneath a couch in an apartment with a knife. Shortly after that arrest, Prejean says he wrote two letters to the District Attorney's office.

The second letter got their attention because Prejean claimed to have information about Neal Sweeney's murder from the previous September.

A detective went to the jail and heard him out, but was reluctant to believe Prejean because he has a long criminal history, including 14 felony convictions.

Prejean offered to wear a wire and did so.

Prejean says Terrico Bethel confessed to him for the second time that he was hired to kill Sweeney and says Bethel named three others involved, Fred Shields, a man named Jack and Mohammed Aziz, who Sweeney's business had sued.

Prejean says Bethel told him, Fred, Jack and Mohammed drove Bethel by Sweeney's business and Jack and Fred showed him a picture of Sweeney, then Fred provided him with the white van he drove to and from the murder.

Prejean says he has turned his life around, found God, got married and has seen too much in his lifetime, so decided to come forward.

"I think this is a case Mr. Prejean has the information and the type of information and I would not have sponsored someone if I didn't think they were telling the truth," said Tim Harris, Tulsa County DA.

The defense attorney argued Prejean isn't believable or credible and didn't give any information about the murder that hadn't already been in the media. She questioned him hard about what kind of deal he's expecting to get for his help.

As for her client, she says Bethel maintains his innocence.

"He is in good spirits, trusting the justice system will prevail, so we are fighting a hard fight and trying to hold up very well," said Marny Hill, Bethel's attorney.

The courtroom was packed Monday with family and friends of both Sweeney and Bethel. The judge warned spectators if he saw them trying to stare down or intimidate a witness or Bethel, they'd be cleared from the courtroom.

As for the other three men mentioned in the testimony, Fred Shields is facing 35 years in federal prison for drugs and police say they are still investigating other possible suspects.

Prosecutors say they are still considering whether this will be a death penalty case.

3/29/2009  Related Story: Tulsa Police Arrest Fugitive After Pursuit

 

 

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