Tulsa Police Officer Charged With Murder

Monday, August 18th 2014, 4:01 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County prosecutors have charged police officer Shannon Kepler with first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill in the death of the 19-year-old boyfriend of his daughter.

Kepler is a 24-year TPD veteran who was off duty at the time of the killing.

Jeremy Lake, 19, was killed on Aug. 5.

8/6/2014 Related Story: Two Tulsa Police Officers Arrested After Fatal Shooting Of Daughter's Boyfriend

Lake, who was a sometimes volunteer at a homeless shelter where he met Lisa Kepler, was walking with her west of downtown about 9 p.m. when Lisa says her father pulled up in his SUV and shot Lake dead at close range.

Shannon Kepler turned himself in hours after the shooting and is being held without bond, as is practice for first-degree murder suspects. His wife, Gina, also a TPD officer, was jailed as an accessory to murder because investigators say she didn't assist in the search for her husband after he reportedly killed Lake.

The SUV was found at a Motel 6 three days after Lake's death, police said. It was towed as evidence.

Gina Kepler's bond was reduced to $25,000 on Aug. 7. Her bond was posted and she was released that evening. Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris decided not to file charges against her because the evidence didn't support the charge.

"I believe she's guilty, but time will tell. Time will tell," Lake's aunt, Pam Wilkins, said.

Even though Wilkins is disappointed Gina Kepler wasn't charged in connection to her nephew's death, she is pleased Shannon Kepler was charged with murder and she believes justice will be done.

8/6/2014 Related Story: Family, Friends Mourn Loss Of Man Killed In Shooting

Harris said the police department did a thorough investigation and handed it over to his office last week and they reviewed it internally before deciding on the appropriate charges.

“[Shannon] Kepler is presumed innocent under the Constitution and Oklahoma law until sufficient evidence is presented to a judge or jury to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Harris said. "...I know people in the public, because Mr. Kepler is a police officer, think he'll get a break or treated special or different, but that's not going to happen. I don't think it happened in the investigation and it won't happen in the D.A.'s office."

Harris met with Lake's family Monday afternoon and told them about the charges. He said he explained how the process works and warned them it could be a long one. Harris said he told them prosecutors would walk them through step by step because they are still reeling from the grief over the unexpected loss.

Lake's family said they have good days and bad days but they don't plan to move, even though Jeremy was killed close by.

"It's hard when we walk out of this door because that's where he was murdered, but we have a great deal of support, a lot of homeless people come by, share stories and happy memories," Wilkins said.

Kepler's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, said he didn't want to comment, but preferred to do so at Tuesday's arraignment.

TPD still is investigating.