A white former Oklahoma police officer will face a fourth trial in the shooting death of his daughter’s (identified by MSM as black) boyfriend, a prosecutor said Monday. Three mistrials in less than a year have been declared in the case of Shannon Kepler, who was charged in the August 2014 fatal shooting of 19-year-old Jeremy Lake in Tulsa.
All of Kepler’s previous trials have been overseen by black District Judge Sharon Holmes. In Kepler’s most recent trial, held this month, jurors deadlocked 6-6 after almost three hours of deliberations. 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.
It’s unclear why Holmes allowed the jury to deliberate much longer in the first two trials. A spokeswoman for Holmes on Monday said the judge would not comment on the case. Kepler’s attorney, Richard O’Carroll, said he’s never heard of a case being tried four times and suggested there is political motivation behind the prosecution’s plan.
“It’s a waste of valuable resources,” O’Carroll said.
A spokeswoman for Lake’s family did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment about the prosecutor’s decision. Kepler, who retired from the force after he was charged, was a 24-year police veteran who has said he was trying to protect his 18-year-old daughter, who had run away from home and was living in a crime-ridden neighborhood. O’Carroll said Lisa Kepler had been in and out of a homeless shelter after her father prohibited her from bringing men into his house.
Kepler doesn’t deny shooting Lake, but told investigators he acted in self-defense because he thought Lake was armed. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement Monday that prosecutors and the Tulsa Police Department “are in full agreement that this case should proceed with prosecution.”
“The very nature of our criminal justice system is premised upon the finality of a verdict,” Kunzweiler said.
The prosecutor previously said jurors should be compelled to reach a verdict.
Kepler wasn’t the only individual charged in this matter; his wife, Gina Kepler—coincidentally also an officer with the Tulsa Police Department—was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact but later had the charges dropped.