Jury Selection Begins Again In Trial of Tulsa Businessman's Alleged Shooter

Monday, August 20th 2012, 7:39 pm
By: News On 6

The jury selection began Monday in the first of three trials for the murder of Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney.

Terrico Bethel stands trial first.

Prosecutors said he's confessed to walking into Sweeney's east Tulsa business in 2008 and shooting Sweeney in the head, as part of a murder-for-hire plot.

Five men were originally charged with Sweeney's murder, but of the five, one committed suicide and one pleaded guilty and will testify against the remaining three.

Bethel was supposed to stand trial in June and, in fact, they had a jury picked, but then his attorney collapsed in court, so that jury was dismissed and the case was postponed until now.

6/29/2012 Related Story: Neal Sweeney Murder Trial Delayed After Lawyer Collapses

The men accused in Neal Sweeney's murder are: Mohammad Aziz, Allen Shields, Fred Shields, Alonzo Johnson and Terrico Bethel.

Aziz pleaded guilty in January to soliciting Sweeney's murder.

He's expected to testify against the others in exchange for a 25 to 35-year sentence.

Authorities say Aziz ran a north Tulsa convenience store and got mad when Sweeney's fuel business stopped delivering fuel. He filed a lawsuit because Aziz owed them $250,000 in unpaid fuel bills.

Aziz said he talked to Allen Shields about making the murder happen in exchange for $10,000.

1/30/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Man Pleads Guilty In Neal Sweeney Murder-For-Hire Case

He said he made two, $5,000-payments to Shields, who later committed suicide in 2011, after a standoff with police.

But, before that, he testified in court that he got his brother, Fred Shields, his cousin Alonzo Johnson and Terrico Bethel to plan and carry out the murder.

Police say Fred Shields and Alonzo Johnson did things like stake out Sweeney's business and get a stolen van out of Muskogee to be the getaway vehicle.

Police say Bethel is the one who pulled the trigger

They say he confessed to walking into Retail Fuels Marketing on September 4, 2008, walking past the receptionist, straight into Neal Sweeney's office, and shooting him once in the head with a .38 caliber handgun.

Sweeney died the next day.

Another jail inmate claimed Bethel confessed to him, but police were skeptical, so they had that inmate wear a wire and get it again on tape, which he did.

Bethel has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

You can follow Lori Fullbright on Twitter for live updates from the trial, as it continues.