Preliminary Hearing Postponed In Murder Of Tulsa Businessman


Tuesday, September 7th 2010, 5:54 pm
By: News On 6


By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA – Monday's hearing for the suspects accused of killing Tulsan Neal Sweeney was postponed for another month so one of the suspects can get a new lawyer.

The five men are charged in what police call a murder for hire plot.

6/1/2010 Related Story: Two Men Charged In Connection With Neal Sweeney Murder

District Attorney Tim Harris told News On 6 anchor Lori Fullbright Monday this is the most complex prosecution he's ever handled.

First, there are five suspects, each accused of committing a separate part of the crime, plus there are wiretapped phone calls, a jail inmate wearing a wire, bumper beepers that allowed police to track cars and cell phone pings used to track phone calls. All this in a case police say was over nothing more than a business related lawsuit.

Mohammad Aziz runs a Tulsa convenience store and bought fuel from Retail Fuels Marketing, run by Neal Sweeney and another man. An affadavit says Aziz hadn't paid his fuel bill, so Retail Fuels cut off the gas to the store and Aziz felt that hurt his business.

Then, Retail Fuels sued Aziz over the unpaid bill of $270,000 dollars.  Police say that's when Aziz hatched a plan to have Neal Sweeney killed and paid $10,000 dollars to have it done.

Police say Alonzo Johnson is the one who stole the van from a Muskogee detail shop that would later be used as the get-away vehicle for the murder and was paid $2,000 for his part in the plot.

Terrico Bethel is charged as the triggerman, accused of walking into Retail Fuels on September 4, 2008, straight into Neal Sweeney's office and shooting Sweeney once in the head.

Fred Shields is charged with helping coordinate the murder.

His brother, Allen Shields, is also charged with making the murder arrangements. He is the only one of the five who is not currently in jail and is expected to testify against the others, including his own brother.

The hearing was moved to October 26th. At that time, witnesses will testify as prosecutors try to prove there's enough evidence for a judge to order the five men to stand trial for murder and conspiracy to commit murder.