Okla. Death Row Inmate's Appeal Partially Granted By State Court Of Criminal Appeals

A convicted murderer had his appeal partially granted, dismissing one charge and lowering the sentence for another. He is still on death row.

Thursday, September 21st 2023, 5:50 pm



An Oklahoma man on death row lost part of his first appeal. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday upheld 42-year-old Byron Shepard's murder conviction and death sentence.

Shepard is currently serving time at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for the 2017 shooting death of Tecumseh police officer Justin Terney.

The state Attorney General’s Office said an execution date has not been set for Shepard. Thursday's appeal was the first of many before the state will schedule his execution.

Justin Terney's name was etched in stone outside the Pottawatomie County Courthouse where Shepard was convicted and sentenced to death.

“I think keeping memories alive is the most important thing any of us can do,” said Tonisha Rapp, Terney’s sister.

The fallen Tecumseh police officer's sister spoke to News 9 outside the courthouse after Shepard was sentenced to death in 2020. Police said Shepard shot and killed Terney during a traffic stop.

“Until you’ve had somebody brutally murdered that you love you can’t understand feelings of loss,” said Rapp.

Shepard was escorted out of the courthouse a convicted killer. Three years later the state court of criminal appeals denied Shepard's claim he did not receive a fair trial. However, his appeal was partially granted. The courts upheld his murder conviction and death sentence. In a 102-page document the courts dismissed count two, a charge of knowingly concealing stolen property. Shepard claimed he did not know the murder weapon was stolen. The courts agreed there was not enough evidence to support the charge. They also modified the sentence for count three, a charge for possession of a controlled substance methamphetamine. The sentence was lowered from 10 years to five.

Shepard’s application for post-conviction relief is pending in the courts and then he will likely make an appeal to the federal court.

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