Middleman In Neal Sweeney Murder-For-Hire Case Found Guilty

Friday, September 21st 2012, 10:07 pm
By: Tess Maune

The jury heard closing arguments and returned a verdict Friday night, in the trial of a man accused of helping to organize the assassination of a Tulsa businessman.

Fred Shields was found guilty on both charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first degree murder.

The jury recommended a life sentence, without possibility of parole, plus a $10,000 fine on the first degree murder charge. On the conspiracy charge, they recommended life without parole and a $5,000 fine.

Shields was accused of being the go-between for Mohammed Aziz, who pleaded guilty to masterminding the murder plot, and the triggerman, Terrico Bethel.

Bethel was convicted in August and was sentenced to Life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for the first-degree murder charge and another ten years for the conspiracy charge.

9/18/2012 Related Story: Lawyers Make Opening Statements In Murder Trial Of Alleged Middleman

In closing arguments Friday, prosecutors told the jury that even though Fred Shields didn't pull the trigger, he was just as accountable.

Prosecutors said Fred Shields didn't even know Neal Sweeney, but he wanted him dead for one reason: Money.

Prosecutors said Shields decided on the $10,000-price tag, talked his cousin Alonzo Johnson into stealing the getaway vehicle, and recruited the triggerman, Bethel.

Shields' attorney argued his client was not involved, at all, but that Fred Shields' dead brother, Allen, was the middleman and the money man. His attorney claimed that Allen was the one who knew Mohammad Aziz, the man who wanted Sweeney dead.

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

The defense said Fred Shields was only accused because other people in the case threw him under the bus to save themselves.

Prosecutors said the plan nearly failed, when Fred Shields was arrested the day before the murder. They claimed he was on the phone all day, in the jail, with his girlfriend making sure she connected Bethel and Johnson, so they could carry out the plan.

His attorney said Shields was trying to get a hold of Bethel, not to carry out murder, but because Bethel owed him money.

In closing arguments, the prosecution told the jury that if Fred Shields didn't go to jail for the rest of his life, he would conspire to kill again.

The formal sentencing for Fred Shields is scheduled for October 21.