Tulsa Woman Found Guilty Of Manslaughter In Death Of Priest, Seminary Student

Friday, September 14th 2012, 10:42 pm
By: Tess Maune

A Tulsa woman was been convicted Friday of killing a priest and a seminary student, while driving drunk to escape a shootout, one year ago.

The jury spent about two and a half hours deliberating, before handing down a guilty verdict in the manslaughter case against Keianne Denise Shelton.

Father Jorge Gomez and Stanley Kariuki died August 21, 2011, when their car was hit by a Chevy Impala, driven by Shelton, at 36th Street North and Cincinnati.

The family of Father Gomez said, Friday, they're pleased with the outcome.

Gomez was ordained just seven weeks before his death.

Kariuki was from Kenya, and had two more years of seminary training to go.

The men were headed back from a church event, when Shelton slammed into their car going 86 miles per hour.

8/22/2011 Related Story: Shootout May Have Led To Death Of Tulsa Priest, Seminary Student

Shelton told the jury that, right before the crash, she was at a convenience store, picking up some snacks with a few friends, when shots rang out.

She said she was scared, so she sped away to escape the gunfire.

Shelton admits to having drunk two tall cans of beer before getting behind the wheel.

Tests show Shelton had a blood alcohol level of nearly two times the legal limit.

"Regardless that she's running from something, she's still behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and that's the crime we were trying," said prosecutor Phillip Peak.

The defense argued the shootout was to blame for the deaths of Gomez and Kariuki, not Shelton's decision to drive drunk.

The jury found Shelton guilty of two counts of first degree manslaughter.

Gomez's sister, Maria, said she believes Shelton made a mistake, but must pay the consequences.

"I think she got a second opportunity. She's in jail, but she has opportunity to see her family. We never see again, my brother and the friend," she said.

For Maria, she said she wishes more than anything that she could have that same opportunity—to see her brother and tell him how proud he made her.

"It's hard, because my brother is so special," Maria said. "He had big dreams for everybody, not only for the family, but the community."

The jury recommended a 15-year sentence for Shelton, for each conviction.

She will be formally sentenced next month.