Jury selection begins for Terrico Bethel in Neal Sweeney murder case

TULSA - Testimony in the trial for the alleged trigger man in the Neal Sweeney murder case could begin as early as Tuesday.

Jury selection began late Monday afternoon for 26-year-old Terrico Bethel, one of four suspects who will stand trial for the 2008 murder of Sweeney, a Tulsa businessman.

Security will be tight at the Tulsa County Courthouse because three of the suspects have gang ties and one of them is named in murder-for-hire plots against Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris and retired homicide detective Mike Huff.

"Certainly there has been a lot that has happened," Harris said. "We don't want to prejudice anybody, but we anticipate there will be security at the courthouse -- as there needs to be all the time for what what goes on in here."

Sweeney was shot and killed in September 2008 at his east Tulsa office. Prosecutors believe his death was the result of a conspiracy led by Mohammed Aziz, the owner of a Tulsa convenience store.

Authorities believe Bethel was the gunman and brothers Fred Shields and Allen Shields and their cousin, Alonzo Johnson, were also involved. Investigators say Aziz sought to retaliate for Sweeney cutting off fuel to Aziz's gas station.

Aziz pleaded guilty in January to soliciting the murder. He has not yet been sentenced.

Johnson's trial has been set for Aug. 20 and is scheduled to next appear in court July 5.

Allen Shields cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony in the trials of the other suspects. He killed himself during a hostage standoff with police in April of 2011.

Bethel has been in jail on unrelated charges since early 2009 and was charged in the Sweeney case in June of that year. Investigators say they do not suspect Bethel was involved in the murder plots.

Anyone visiting the courthouse during the trial should bring a photo ID and allow extra time to pass through security.

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