Judge Halts Jury Selection In Trial Of Former Tulsa Cop
TULSA, Oklahoma - A judge halted jury selection Wednesday in the second murder trial of former Tulsa Police officer Shannon Kepler after Kepler's attorney made a request to have the contents tested of a baggie found in Jeremey Lake's pocket the night he was shot.
Jury selection is set to resume Thursday morning.
Kepler was charged with killing Lake in 2014. Lake was his daughter's boyfriend.
Kepler's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, said he suspects the baggie might have contained drugs.
Prosecutors said when Tulsa police went to the evidence room to look for the baggie last week, they realized it had been turned over to Lake's girlfriend, Lisa Kepler, along with the rest of Lake's personal belongings.
O'Carroll wants the judge to hold a hearing on this issue.
The judge stopped jury selection after Kepler's attorney raised questions about missing evidence.
When Jeremy Lake was shot, the medical examiner photographed and inventoried all the items in his pockets, which was approximately 50 items, then turned it over to the police for the property room.
One of the items he had was Lisa Kepler's ID and she needed it back so the DA and lead detective agreed she could have it.
She had a note saying, only give her the items with her name on it, but, the DA says the person in the property room gave Kepler all 50 items.
That was 18 months ago.
Kepler's defense team recently noticed in the picture of Lake's items, an empty baggie with black specks inside.
The defense asked the police department to test the baggie for drug residue. They speculated it could be K-2, which can make people aggressive.
Prosecutors said after that request is when they discovered all the items were given away a long time ago and the baggie can't be tested.
Kepler's attorney wants to call witnesses and examine documents to find out exactly what happened.
"I want evidence. This is a great big mistake. If it's a mistake, but I want original copies, I want clerks under oath," said O'Carroll.
The medical examiner's report said Lake did not have drugs in his system when he was killed but they don't test for K-2.
The prosecutor said Lake's blood is still at the ME's office and the defense team could've it tested any time they wanted in the past couple of years for K-2 but haven't.
The DA said the items were not given to Lisa Kepler in bad faith, it was simply a mistake.
The judge said she felt blindsided by all this so she told everyone to come back Thursday and she'll decide how to proceed.
Prosecutors said it's not unusual for items to be released if they're not considered evidence.
Prosecutor Kevin Gray said the defense did ask for evidence to be requested.
"Upon inquiry, TPD determined all of Mr. Lake's personal effects were turned over to Ms. Lisa Kepler a year and a half ago. The court halted proceedings and asked both sides to brief the issue and is considering holding an evidentiary hearing in the morning."
Gray said the DA's office will be prepared to proceed with the request and will continue with jury selection.
O'Carroll has said in the past he has been frustrated he wasn't allowed to tell the first jury what was found in a trash can in a police interview room within two days of Lisa Kepler's interview.
He said the gun had been wiped clean of prints and DNA and said Kepler believes it was the gun Lake pointed at him that night.
The judge ultimately ruled it wasn't allowed in court. Police never found a gun on Lake the night he was killed.
Kepler's first trial ended in a hung jury and this second trial is still in the phase of picking the jury.