Tulsa, OK – A former Tulsa police officer who was convicted in 2017 of killing his daughter’s boyfriend is expected to be released in the next few days because the state didn’t have the jurisdiction to prosecute him.
Former Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler was arrested in August of 2014 after he shot 19-year-old Jeremy Lake, who had just started dating his then-18-year-old daughter Lisa, KOKI reported.
Lisa Kepler testified that her adoptive parents Shannon and Gina Kepler, who were both Tulsa police officers, dropped her off at a homeless shelter in late July of 2014 because she had been behaving badly, sneaking out at night, and getting arrested for drugs, Tulsa World reported.
She met Lake at the shelter while he was volunteering there, and he took her home with him to his aunt’s house.
The Keplers became worried about their daughter and tracked down her whereabouts via Facebook, Tulsa World reported.
Her father saw she had started a relationship with Lake and found the man’s address so he could go find his daughter.
Lisa Kepler testified that she, Lake, and Lake’s brother were walking back to their house when they saw her father’s SUV parked out front, Tulsa World reported.
Shannon Kepler tried to talk to his daughter, but Lisa turned and walked away.
A split second later, she heard gunfire, Tulsa World reported.
Lisa Kepler testified that she turned back and saw Lake on the ground beside her father’s vehicle.
Lake’s brother, Michael Hamilton, was grazed on the arm by a bullet, KJRH reported.
Hamilton testified that he saw Lisa Kepler hide in a bush and that after Shannon Kepler shot Lake, he fired shots at his daughter, too.
Shannon Kepler claimed that Lake pulled a gun on him and he shot the 19 year old in self-defense, Tulsa World reported.
However, police did not find a weapon at the scene.
Then-Officer Kepler was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, KOKI reported.
His wife, Tulsa Police Officer Gina Kepler, was also arrested for accessory after the fact but she was never formally charged.
State prosecutors had to try Shannon Kepler four times to get a conviction, Tulsa World reported.
The first three juries were hung, and the fourth convicted the former Tulsa police officer of first-degree manslaughter in the heat of passion after prosecutors included the lesser option for the jury to consider in the fourth trial.
Shannon Kepler was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2017, Tulsa World reported.
The former police officer had already served three years of his sentence in November when his attorneys filed a motion to dismiss his case after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court in July that ruled a large portion of eastern Oklahoma is an American Indian reservation, KOKI reported.
Shannon Kepler appealed his conviction on the grounds that the state didn’t have jurisdiction over the crime because the crime happened on Indian land and he is a member of Muscogee Creek Nation.
U.S. Magistrate Paul Cleary ruled on Nov. 25 that the former police officer should be released from custody pending a decision from the appeals court, Tulsa World reported.
Cleary said on Dec. 14 that Shannon Kepler would be released on bond if and when the appeals court confirmed its decision to dismiss the state charges against him is final, KOKI reported.
Federal prosecutors charged the former police officer with first-degree murder after they learned he was likely to be released on his appeal because the U.S. Attorney’s Office does have the jurisdiction to prosecute that the state lacked.
They argued to the magistrate that Shannon Kepler was a flight risk, but Cleary pointed to the 60-plus hearings the former officer had attended for his first four trials as proof he could be counted on not to flee, KOKI reported.
Shannon Kepler’s wife is still a Tulsa police officer.
Officer Gina Kepler was terminated by Tulsa PD in December of 2015 after she invoked spousal privilege during an interview with Internal Affairs about the shooting, Tulsa World reported.
But she fought back and won, and was reinstated to her previous rank with back pay in December of 2019.
Cleary ruled the Shannon Kepler’s wife could keep her duty weapon in their home while he lived there as long as it was locked in a safe and he didn’t have the combination, KOKI reported.