'He Shouldn't Be Walking Free. He's Guilty,' Kepler Juror Says
TULSA, Oklahoma - A juror in the third murder trial for former Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler said he doesn’t believe justice was served.
The trial ended with a hung jury of 6-6. The previous two trials also ended with a mistrial.
One juror, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the decision weighed heavily on him but has no doubt Kepler is guilty.
He said this was his first time serving on a jury - a position he never wanted in the first place.
"I didn't want to feel responsible for somebody's life, whether it was Shannon Kepler's or Jeremey Lake's," he said.
The juror said the first thing they did in the deliberation room was take a vote.
"There was eight of us that thought he was guilty initially, three of us that thought he was innocent, and one of person was undecided completely," he said.
Even post-trial, he doesn't mince words.
"I still believe that he's guilty of first-degree murder," the juror said.
For all the jury members, he said it all came down to the gun.
"The argument pretty much was, there's not a definitive answer of whether or not Jeremey Lake had a gun or not," he said. "Nobody other than the person that's sitting on trial for first-degree murder was the only person that said Jeremey Lake had a gun."
After just three-and-a-half hours, he said they were deadlocked at 6-6, even with a lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter as an option.
The split jury also hadn't been allowed lunch or dinner breaks.
"I'm a lot more stubborn whenever I'm hungry, and I think that had something to do with it. I think that's why we were all so prepared to get out of there," he said.
Regardless, he said that even if they'd stayed in there several more hours, the outcome probably would have been the same.
But he feels justice was not served in this case.
"Not at all, not at all. He shouldn't be walking free. He's guilty. There's nothing more to it," he said.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said he's disappointed the court declared a mistrial after such a short deliberation.
The court scheduled a status hearing for the case on August 1st.
Before then, Kunzweiler said he will explore all options available to his office regarding the continuation of the prosecution of Mr. Kepler.
Kunzweiler released a statement saying:
"As I previously stated following the trial of Mr. Kepler, I am disappointed in the court’s decision to declare a mistrial after only 2.5 hours of deliberation by the jury. Our system of justice is premised upon the finality of judgment. Justice for Mr. Kepler and for Jeremy Lake demands it. At this point the court has scheduled a status hearing for August 1, 2017. Prior to that setting I will explore all options available to my office regarding the continuation of the prosecution of Mr. Kepler. It is my responsibility to assess the strength of evidence, and to determine the likelihood of success in any criminal case. It is also my duty as a guardian of the public’s safety and as a steward of its resources to balance those interests in an appropriate manner. An important aspect of my evaluation will be on-going consultations with the lead investigator from the Tulsa Police Department. Finally, our law presumes any person charged with a crime to be presumed innocent of that crime until a judge or a jury determines otherwise. Mr. Kepler is entitled to that presumption."