Third Murder Trial For Shannon Kepler Could Start Tuesday
TULSA, Oklahoma - Jury selection is scheduled for Tuesday morning in the first-degree murder trial of a former Tulsa Police officer.
It will be Shannon Kepler's third trial on the charge, after the first two ended in mistrials.
Jury selection was expected to start Monday, but Kepler's attorney, Richard O’Carroll, challenged the electronic jury management system, claiming using it would result in a jury that is not fair.
He asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to stay the murder trial in order to have a hearing so he could make his arguments about the system, which the courts have used for years. He and the DA’s office had a conference call with the Supreme Court’s referee. The referee took the issue to the chief justice who denied the request for an emergency stay based on this issue.
After asking Judge Sharon Holmes for the third time to recuse herself and her saying no, O’Carroll took his request to Holmes’ boss, Judge Rebecca Nightingale. She refused to make Holmes recuse herself.
"It's an imposition of burden on the accused, it's a denial of due process. It is the very definition of arbitrary," O’Carroll said.
O’Carroll then asked Judge Nightingale to stay the murder trial to give him time to write an appeal on the recusal to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Nightingale said she would only stay it until 5 p.m. Monday. O'Carroll filed his appeal before the deadline to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
The court will be presented with the document in the morning and then they will await the court's decision.
If the Court of Criminal Appeals issues a stay, the new trial will not start Tuesday. If the court doesn’t issue a stay, Nightingale’s decision remains in place and trial begins Tuesday.
Kepler is accused of murdering his daughter's boyfriend Jeremey Lake in 2014. Kepler claims it was in self-defense. His previous two trials ended in hung juries.
In a statement, Kepler's Attorney, Richard O'Carroll told me quote: "I'm determined to see that a new judge presides over this matter, and I am going to exhaust all remedies to that end."
But the district attorney said his office is ready to move forward.
"We're certainly looking forward to putting this case on and presenting it before 12 folks who can make a decision on the case. It's been a couple years now, we're ready to move forward on prosecution of the case," District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Friday before the Supreme Court filing.