Jury Selection Begins In Final Trial Of Neal Sweeney Murder Case

Monday, December 3rd 2012, 7:16 pm
By: News On 6

The third and final trial began in the Neal Sweeney murder case Monday.

Jury selection began late in the afternoon for Alonzo Johnson. He's accused of stealing the getaway vehicle that was used in what prosecutors call the murder-for-hire of a Tulsa businessman.

Alonzo Johnson's attorney has filed a number of motions in this case.

He doesn't want Neal Sweeney's autopsy mentioned to the jury, because the medical examiner who did it no longer works there, so someone else would have to testify about it.

He doesn't want the white van mentioned, because it has since been sold.

He filed a motion saying he plans to call 39 witnesses, far more than attorneys called in the last two trials combined.

9/21/2012 Related Story: Middleman In Neal Sweeney Murder-For-Hire Case Found Guilty

Alonzo Johnson, who prosecutors say goes by "Jack," is cousins with Allen and Fred Shields.

Allen Shields was friends with Mohammad Aziz, who ran three convenience stores. Aziz admitted he wanted Neal Sweeney dead after Sweeney's company shut off gas to those stores, because Aziz had stopped paying.

Aziz says he asked Allen Shields to find somebody to do it, so Allen talked to his brother, Fred, who set the $10,000 price tag, recruited the triggerman and got Johnson to steal the getaway van.

After testifying against the others, Allen Shields committed suicide.

Fred Shields went to trial and was convicted and sentenced to consecutive life terms.

Terrico Bethel went to trial as the triggerman and was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.

Aziz pleaded guilty in exchange for a 25- to 35-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors say Johnson stole the van from a detail shop in Muskogee just a few days before Sweeney was shot to death at his office in east Tulsa on September 4, 2008.

They say he and Fred Shields did some scouting out of that office complex and, the day before the murder, when Fred Shields got arrested, he had his girlfriend call Johnson and give him the phone number and directions to Bethel's house, so the murder could go forward.

8/24/2012 Related Story: Jury Finds Terrico Bethel Guilty In Neal Sweeney Murder-For-Hire Case

Johnson has pleaded not guilty.

His attorney says there are discrepancies in the van described by witnesses at the scene and the one that was recovered by police, and since it has since been sold, they can't do their own tests.

He says, for instance, the odometer reading is critical to this case.

Johnson's trial is expected to take two weeks.

Then, for the first time in more than four years, Neal Sweeney's family won't have a court case hanging over their heads and can finally begin to heal.