Jury Finds Terrico Bethel Guilty In Neal Sweeney Murder-For-Hire Case

Friday, August 24th 2012, 5:58 pm

By: News On 6

A Tulsa jury on Friday deliberated for less than two hours before convicting Terrico Bethel on first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges.

Prosecutors said Bethel was the triggerman in a 2008 murder-for-hire plot against Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney.

The jury recommended maximum punishment for both counts: Life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder charge and another ten years for the conspiracy charge. 

Jurors listened Friday to about two hours of closing arguments from the prosecution and defense before returning the verdict.

"It was overwhelming, in my opinion, overwhelming of his guilt of being the triggerman, the shooter, said Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris.

As for Bethel's attorney, Sharon Holmes, she said only that the jury did its job and based its decision on the evidence.

"We were here to make sure Mr. Bethel got a fair trial, and I think that's what we did," Holmes said.

Prosecutors said there is much evidence linking Bethel to the other four men in the conspiracy. Convenience store owner Mohammad Aziz is alleged to have arranged for Sweeney's murder after he was unable to pay a gas bill to Sweeney's company.

Aziz had brothers Fred and Allen Shields contact Bethel, who served as the hit man, according to the prosecution. A fifth man, Alonzo Johnson, stole a getaway vehicle and was also part of the conspiracy.

The defense said there was no evidence – no gun, bullets, fingerprints, DNA or eyewitnesses – that ties Bethel to the crimes. They say the witnesses for the prosecution weren't credible but are criminals out to save their own skins.

8/24/2012: Tulsa Jury Begins Deliberations In Murder-For-Hire Plot Against Neal Sweeney

The jury was seated Tuesday and listened all week to a string of witnesses that pointed to Bethel as the shooter.

Bethel did not testify in his defense.

Bethel will be formally sentenced at a later date.

Aziz pleaded guilty to soliciting murder. He will serve 25 to 35 years in prison.

The next trial in this case will be in just a few weeks and will either be Johnson or Fred Shields.



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