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Jury Convicts Kepler On Lesser Charges In Federal Murder Trial

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Oklahoma Department of Corrections
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After six hours of deliberations Monday, a federal jury found former Tulsa Police officer Shannon Kepler guilty on charges related to the 2014 killing of his daughter's 19-year-old boyfriend.

Prosecutors charged Kepler in a three-count indictment in November. The jury on Monday found Kepler not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty of discharging a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence, which were second-degree murder and assault with a dangerous weapon. The assault charge is for shooting at Jeremy Lake's younger brother.

U.S. Marshals took Kepler into custody after the verdict was announced. He will be sentenced Aug. 11.

"I am thankful for today’s verdict, and the jury is to be commended for their service," Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said in a statement.

Stan Monroe, Kepler's attorney, said he was "extremely disappointed" and will appeal the verdict, claiming the statute of limitations has expired for the second-degree murder charge.

Under federal law, Kepler must serve his sentence for the second-degree murder conviction after completing his sentence for the assault conviction. The assault conviction could result in up to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors argued at trial after dropping their 18-year-old daughter off at a homeless shelter, Kepler and his wife were "alarmed" to discover on Facebook she was in a relationship with Lake days later. Kepler had a police records search done on Lake, tracked him down at his last known address in the 200 block of north Maybelle Avenue, and confronted Lake and his daughter the night of Aug. 5, 2014.

Kepler shot Lake twice in the street and fired at least three shots at Lake's house, where Lake's friend, Lake's brother and Kepler's daughter were on the front porch.

Kepler has claimed he saw Lake pull a gun and shot in self-defense. No gun was found at the scene. Kepler's attorney argued a gun that turned up at the Tulsa Police Department days later could have been taken from the scene.

The federal trial, Kepler's fifth for Lake's death, started April 19. Three previous state trials resulted in hung juries. A fourth state trial ended in 2017 with the jury finding Kepler guilty of manslaughter.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison after that trial, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out Kepler's conviction last month. Kepler is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and killed Lake on land within the boundaries of the tribe's reservation.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last July that Oklahoma had been wrongly prosecuting some crimes involving Native Americans or that happened on tribal lands.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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