Shannon Kepler, a former Oklahoma policeman, has been convicted for the death of 19-year-old Jeremy Lake. Three mistrials were declared before a jury could come to the conclusion that Kepler was guilty of manslaughter, according to the New York Daily News.
Lake, who had been dating Kepler's daughter, was unarmed at the time of the shooting. Kepler claimed to have believed he was carrying a gun at the time, saying he fired his own weapon in self defense. "It was either him or me," he was reported as saying. A family member of Lake's said he had been extending his arm for a handshake at the time he was shot.
Kepler's attorney claimed that the former officer's daughter had run away after being prohibited from bringing men to the house and claimed that race had nothing to do with the killing.
Prosecutors told a different story: They say Kepler had gone on a "hunt" for Lake.
Concerns about the racial bias of the jury lead to several mistrials. Lake was biracial but identified as black; juries were predominantly white. Kepler had also attempted to have the case thrown out, saying that he could not be tried by state prosecutors because he's a member of an American Indian tribe.
If the government is going to prosecute you four times in a row,” Kepler's lawyer, Ricard O'Carroll, had attempted to argue. “The odds of you being convicted go up.”
“They argued racism without a shred of evidence,” O’Carroll added, saying the judge “was biased from the beginning. I know that sounds like sour grapes, but it’s the truth.”
The conviction was finally reached on Wednesday night after a judge had repeated the decision to allow for the charge of manslaughter to be considered rather than murder. The jury has recommended that Kepler serve 15 years in jail. He is scheduled to be officially sentenced next month.
[Photo: Screenshot via YouTube]