Bethel Murder Trial Continues With Testimony From Convenience Store Owner

Thursday, August 23rd 2012, 10:24 am

By: News On 6

The man who sought the murder of Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney in 2008 took the witness stand Thursday in the murder trial of Terrico Bethel.

Mohammad Aziz ran three convenience stores and bought gasoline for them from Sweeney's company.

When Aziz's businesses started failing and he couldn't pay his gas bill, it got shut off, and he said that made him furious.

8/23/2012 Related Story: More Witnesses Take Stand In Terrico Bethel Murder Trial

One of Aziz's employees said his hatred toward Sweeney was all-consuming, that Aziz talked about planting drugs in Sweeney's jeep to ruin his reputation and putting ten rattlesnakes in Sweeney's vehicle.

Aziz testified he decided in May 2008 to find someone to shoot Sweeney.

Four months later, Sweeney was dead.

Mohammad Aziz came to America from Pakistan in 1981.

In 2008, he was about to lose his convenience stores and placed the blame on his gas man, Neal Sweeney.

Even though Sweeney tried to work with Aziz on payments, Aziz was so angry, he wanted to have Sweeney killed.

Aziz said he agreed to pay $10,000 for the contract killing, but had to pay it off in installments, because of his money situation.

He said he dealt only with Allen and Fred Shields about the details of the murder, until after it was over, and then a man who called himself "Life" came into his store, and demanded even more money, saying he was the one who had killed the Sweeney.

Prosecutors said Terrico Bethel's street name is "Life."

The murder almost didn't happen, because the day before, Fred Shields got thrown into jail, and prosecutors said he was the only one who knew who the triggerman was, so he was desperate to get out and make the final arrangements.

The jury heard recorded phone calls from the jail between Fred Shields and his girlfriend, as she frantically tried to pay his fines and get rid of his warrants so he could get out.

When he realized it wasn't going to happen, he had her get Terrico Bethel's number and directions to his house and give them to Alonzo Johnson.

Prosecutors said Johnson is the one who stole the getaway vehicle, and once she connected the two men, the murder was back on schedule and happened the next day, as planned.

In exchange for pleading guilty to soliciting murder, the District Attorney dropped the more serious murder charges.

Aziz will get 25 to 35 years in prison, which the defense pointed out, is not an 85 percent crime.

The defense also pointed out Aziz never planned the murder with Bethel or gave him money.

At one point during Aziz's testimony, prosecutors asked him why he wanted Sweeney dead, and he said, "When the lion gets used to drinking blood and eating meat, you must find someone to kill him."


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