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Prosecutor shocked by mistrial for cop who killed daughter's boyfriend

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[…] mistrial declared in Tulsa officer-involved shooting An Oklahoma prosecutor said Saturday that he was shocked when a judge declared a mistrial in the case of a white former Tulsa police officer who fatally shot his daughter’s black boyfriend. […
TULSA, Okla. – An Oklahoma prosecutor said Saturday that he was shocked when a judge declared a mistrial in the case of a white former Tulsa police officer who fatally shot his daughter’s black boyfriend.
It was the third mistrial in nine months for former Tulsa police officer Shannon Kepler, and all of the trials have been overseen by District Judge Sharon Holmes. Kepler doesn’t deny shooting 19-year-old Jeremey Lake but claims he was acting in self-defense. Kepler testified that Lake was armed, although police didn’t find a weapon on Lake or at the scene. The shooting happened shortly after Lake had started dating Kepler’s then-18-year-old daughter, Lisa.
Case to be re-evaluated
Attorneys said jurors deliberated for just 2½ to three hours on Friday before saying they were deadlocked 6-6. Holmes reminded jurors that the trial had started June 27 and asked whether that changed their minds. When they said no, the judge declared a mistrial.
“I have never experienced that procedure before in my life, ” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said, noting that judges often tell juries to continue deliberating to try to reach a unanimous verdict in such circumstances.
“I was just hopeful that the court would have followed prior procedure and have the jury deliberate more, ” Kunzweiler said. The judge had told the previous juries in the case to continue deliberating after jurors reported they were deadlocked. She did not immediately return a message left at her office on Saturday.
But defense attorney Richard O’Carroll said the procedure was not unusual and that the prosecution’s case – not the jury- was to blame for the mistrial.
“It’s frankly bad manners to blame the jury, ” O’Carroll said. “This thing has been sensationalized since the very beginning.”
Kunzweiler said he will re-evaluate the case and decide before an Aug. 1 status conference whether to try Kepler for a fourth time.
Unlike the previous two trials, Holmes had instructed jurors that they could convict Kepler of first-degree murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter. Manslaughter carries a sentence of four years to life in prison, while the sentence on a first-degree murder conviction is life in prison.
Jury position unclear
Kunzweiler said it was unclear whether the jury’s deadlock was six for conviction and six for acquittal or six for murder and six for the lesser charge of manslaughter. Although previous juries could not agree on the murder charge, jurors in his first trial convicted Kepler of recklessly using his firearm.
Kepler, who retired from the force after he was charged, was a 24-year-police veteran who said he was trying to protect his daughter, who had run away from home and was living in a crime-ridden neighborhood.
O’Carroll said Lisa had been in and out of a homeless shelter after her father prohibited her from bringing men into his house.
Juries in Kepler’s previous two trials, in November and February, deadlocked 11-1 and 10-2 in favor of guilt before Holmes declared mistrials after up to 12 hours of deliberations in each case.

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