TULSA - Testimony has begun in the murder trial of a former officer who served in the Tulsa Police Department for 24 years.
After two years of delays, a jury of five men and nine women heard opening statements and prosecution witnesses in Shannon Kepler's murder trial. The former TPD officer is accused of shooting and killing Jeremey Lake, 19, the boyfriend of Kepler's adopted daughter. He's also charged with two counts of shooting with intent to kill.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's office and defense attorney Richard O'Carroll each told jurors Lisa Kepler was adopted at the age of six, and that she and her parents were having problems in the summer of 2014. They each said Shannon and Gina Kepler dropped Lisa off at a homeless shelter in July of 2014; O'Carroll says to "scare her straight."
Attorneys said Lisa met Lake at the shelter, where prosecutors said Lake helped homeless people.
According to prosecutors, Jeremy and Lisa went for a walk on the evening of August 5, 2014, and that on the way home, Shannon Kepler pulled up in a Chevy Suburban, got out and began yelling at her. They said Lisa yelled at Jeremey to go to the house, but that Jeremy tried to introduce himself. Prosecutors said Kepler fired two shots at Jeremey.
Prosecutors told jurors Kepler also tried to shoot his daughter and Lake's then-13-year-old brother Michael Hamilton.
O'Carroll told jurors Kepler was concerned that Lisa, diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, was living in an area of high crime. He said when Kepler came upon the couple, he told Lisa to get in the car, but that Jeremey got between them. He told jurors Kepler knew Lake carried a knife and that he'd previously been in trouble for assault and battery. He also said that Kepler saw a gun on Lake at the time of the shooting. He told jurors Kepler did not see Lake's little brother.
Prosecutors called Lisa Kepler as their first witness. She testified about her relationship with her adoptive parents. She laughed that the Keplers kicked her out of their home and dropped her off at the homeless shelter. She said all she had with her at the time was her state identification and medications.
Kepler testified that she met Lake at the shelter through other person, and that, "He was just a really helpful person."
Lisa Kepler testified that she went to live with Lake and his Aunt Pam shortly after meeting Jeremey, and that his family didn't realize she was living there for the first day or two. She said his family was fine with her living with them on August 5 - the evening she and Lake went to check on some homeless people living under a bridge.
Lisa Kepler was emotionally unable to continue her testimony, so prosecutors moved on to other witnesses.
Terah Shorter, a medical assistant, testified to hearing shots fired, then going outside of her home in the 120 block of Maybelle to help the victim. She told the jury she heard Lisa shouting that her dad was a cop and that he'd just killed her boyfriend. She said Lake was "laying on the ground, coughing up blood" and unable to speak.
Jack Scheving, Shorter's boyfriend, testified that he saw muzzle flashes and a shadowy figure walking away. He told jurors he went inside to get his girlfriend so she could help the victim.
Phillip Milligan, 36, testified he could see the intersection where Jeremey was shot from his home. He said he heard two gunshots and that an SUV at the scene pulled away as he got closer. He described Lisa Kepler as upset and emotional. Milligan testified he called 911 as Lisa screamed about the shooting and described the vehicle.
Loretta Milligan, a nursing home employee, testified to hearing four gunshots - first two, then two more a couple of seconds later. She said she knew Lake from the neighborhood.
Prosecutors questioned several witnesses about the lighting in the area. All of the witnesses responded that the lighting was adequate to see the scene.
O’Carroll tried to have Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler removed from the case in March of 2015.
Over the two years Kepler awaited trial, O’Carroll filed numerous motions that stalled criminal proceedings until October 28, when the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied his request for a stay and to remove Judge Sharon Holmes from the case.
Testimony will resume on Friday.
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