Opening statements begin for alleged triggerman in Neal Sweeney murder-for-hire case

TULSA - Four years after a well-known Tulsa businessman was killed in his east Tulsa office, the suspected triggerman is set for trial.

After one day of jury selection, opening statements began Tuesday afternoon for Terrico Bethel, who's accused of shooting Neal Sweeney in September 2008 in what prosecutors call a "murder-for-hire" scheme.

Bethel is the first of three suspects to stand trial.

Prosecutors believe gas station owner Mohammed Aziz worked with Fred Shields, his brother Allen Shields and their cousin Alonzo Johnson to hire Bethel to kill Sweeney.

Investigators believe it was retaliation for Sweeney cutting off fuel to Aziz's gas station, due to unpaid bills.

The prosecution opened with a snapshot of what they hope to prove at trial.

They say Terrico Bethel pulled the trigger in the murder for hire plot that ended Neal Sweeney's life. Prosecutors say detectives didn't believe it was a random murder from the start.

Sweeney's coworkers, his secretary and accountant, were the first witnesses to take the stand. They were there when the gunman stormed into the office.

Sweeney's secretary says the gunman, covered up with a hoody and sunglasses, went straight to Sweeney's office without a word, and fired a gun. She says she ran to hide in her co-workers office, and that's when they called 911.

Prosecutors played the 911 tapes. They recorded the chaos as Sweeney's stunned coworkers tried to help him while waiting for first responders to arrive.

During testimony, Sweeney's family crowded together in the courtroom for support.

Prosecutors say down the line, the jury will hear Bethel's confession caught on tape. They say Bethel confessed to an inmate who was wearing a wire while he was in jail.

Allen Shields agreed to testify against the others, but in April 2011 he killed himself during a police standoff.

Aziz took a plea deal and will not stand trial.

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