Opening Statements, Testimonies Begin In Neal Sweeney Murder Trial


Tuesday, August 21st 2012, 5:45 pm
By: News On 6


Prosecutors gave their opening statements Tuesday in the murder trial of Terrico Bethel, accused of killing TU Hall of Famer, Neal Sweeney.

They used a Power Point presentation during opening statements to lay out the complexity of the case, which involves five different suspects.

Of the five men who are charged in this murder-for-hire plot, prosecutors say three of them have confessed, including Bethel, the accused triggerman.

They say he confessed to a jail cell mate, who was wearing a wire, and the jury will get to hear that tape.

Prosecutors say Mohammad Aziz ran three convenience stores and bought gas from the company where Sweeney was president.

They say Aziz couldn't pay his bills, so his gas was cut off, and then the gas company sued him, so he decided he wanted Sweeney dead. They say he asked Allen Shields to find someone to do the job.

8/20/2012 Related Story: Jury Selection Begins Again In Trial of Tulsa Businessman's Alleged Shooter

They say Allen Shields was the middleman, who contacted his brother Fred, who recruited Alonzo Johnson to steal the getaway vehicle. And he recruited Terrico Bethel to be the triggerman.

Prosecutors laid out what they call some key moments of this case that have happened over the past four years.

They told the jury the murder conspiracy began in May of 2008 when Aziz approached Shields. In September, the murder was carried out. Five months later, in February, the getaway vehicle was recovered. Two months after that, they say Bethel confessed to a jail cell mate. Not long afterward, one of Aziz's employees came forward, saying she had overheard him threatening harm to Sweeney. In May of the next year, the second confession came, this time from Allen Shields, who was trying to get out of some drug charges.

The next year, after testifying, Shields committed suicide.

Then, in January of this year, the third confession came from Mohammad Aziz, who pleaded guilty and will testify against the others, in exchange for a 25 to 35-year prison sentence.

The first two witnesses to give testimony Tuesday were women, who worked in Sweeney's office and were there when the gunman walked in wearing big sunglasses and a hoodie pulled tight around his face. They say he went straight to Sweeney's office, without saying a word and shot Sweeney in the head.

They told the jury about barricading themselves in an office, calling 911. They wept when talking about how they tried to stop the bleeding from Sweeney's head wound.

Lori Fullbright will be back in court Wednesday. Follow her on Twitter for updates from the courtroom, as the trial continues.