Judge Declares Mistrial in Tulsa Police Officer's Murder Trial

A deadlocked jury led a judge to declare a mistrial in the first degree murder trial of a former Tulsa police officer.

Shannon Kepler was charged with first degree murder after he shot and killed his daughter's boyfriend, 19-year-old Jeremy Lake. He was also charged with two counts of shooting with intent to kill for firing at his own daughter, Lisa Kepler, and Lake's younger brother, Michael Hamilton, 15.

According to the prosecution, Kepler and his wife, Gina, also a Tulsa police officer, had been having difficulty with their adopted daughter, Lisa, who was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder. In order to "scare her straight," the Keplers dropped their daughter off at a homeless shelter in July 2014.

About a week later, Kepler went looking for Lisa, and he found her walking with Jeremy Lake, whom she met at the shelter. Prosecutors say that Jeremy tried to introduce himself to Kepler, but that the off-duty officer drew his gun and killed his daughter's new boyfriend. 

Kepler's defense argued that the man was acting in self-defense, because he knew Lake carried a knife and had a prior record for assault and battery. He claims that Lake was carrying a gun at the time he shot him.

The prosecution says that Kepler also fired at his own daughter and the younger Lake brother before driving away. The defense says Kepler was not fleeing the scene, but rather leaving to seek legal representation, and that he did not even see the younger brother there.

At the culmination of the trial, the jury deliberated for more than 9 hours. They agreed to reduce the charges of shooting with intent to kill and instead convicted the defendant of two misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct with a firearm. They recommended the maximum sentence of six months in jail for each of the two counts.

However, the jury could not come to a unanimous decision in the murder count, with 11 jurors voting for conviction, and one holdout refusing to convict. After the jury told Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes that additional deliberation wouldn’t be beneficial, the judge declared a mistrial.

Kepler was remanded back into custody without bond pending the scheduling of a new murder trial. 

Image credit: Brian Turner