Jurors To Consider 1st Degree Manslaughter In Former TPD Officer's Trial
TULSA, Oklahoma - A third mistrial was declared Friday evening in the murder trial of former Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler. He was charged with the deadly shooting of his daughter’s boyfriend, Jeremey Lake.
Kepler was tried in November 2016 and again in February 2017. Both also ended in hung juries.
Jury instructions took all of Friday morning and closing arguments lasting until 3:45 p.m.
Jury instructions took longer than usual because the prosecution asked for the judge to add an instruction that would allow the jury to consider first-degree manslaughter as a conviction.
The judge eventually approved that request, meaning that the jury could decide between first-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, and not guilty.
District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler kicked off closing arguments Friday afternoon by reminding the jury how important their roles are as “officers of the court.”
He asked the jury not to be lead astray by defense attorney Richard O’Carroll’s statements, which he says “planted the seeds of doubt without any basis of truth.”
Kunzweiler pointed out that the only person that has a different version of events in Kepler. He says not one witness corroborated his story.
He says Kepler was the aggressor because he sought Lake out by going to his aunt’s house in the first place.
Assistant DA Kevin Gray continued to push these ideas in the second closing argument, saying all the neighbors who were at the scene immediately after Lake was shot, gave consistent testimonies.
“They get everything right,” Gray said. “Every single little detail.”
They all say Lake was unarmed, that Kepler parked his car in the middle of an intersection, and that he had a silver gun with a black handle.
“The only man facing prison is the only man who says that (Lake had a gun),” Gray said.
Gray also questioned the fact that Kepler didn’t call 911 after he shot Lake.
Kepler said he didn’t call because he knew someone else would, but during his testimony, never could tell the jury how he knew that.
The prosecution also questioned the fact that Kepler left the scene at all, without waiting to give a statement to responding officers.
Kepler testified that he left because he had just been forced to shoot someone to defend himself, and he thought he was out of ammunition.
He said witnesses were headed his way, and he wanted to avoid another confrontation that would force him to hurt anyone else.
Kepler also said he wanted to talk with his wife and get an attorney before he went to the police department to turn himself in.
The prosecution says he could have gotten an attorney at the police department, and the only reason he left the scene is because “he knew he’d done something wrong.”
The defense’s closing argument focused mostly on Kepler’s good character.
O’Carroll pointed out the fact that he had served TPD for 25 years and didn’t have a single blemish on his record before the shooting.
Several character testimonies on Thursday pointed out that Kepler is a stand-up officer and honest man.
His daughter Danielle also testified in her father’s defense.
O’Carroll said that Kepler had been living with his wife and his two daughters for the last three years since the shooting.
O’Carroll impressed upon the jury that each of them has the power to send Kepler home to his family.