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Federal prosecutors have rested their case in the murder trial of a white former Tulsa police officer charged in the fatal 2014 shooting of his daughter’s Black boyfriend.
Shannon Kepler, 60, was off-duty when he shot Jeremey Lake, 19. Kepler says he fired in self-defense because Lake was armed with a gun, but no weapon was found at the scene.
Defense attorney Stan Monroe, who began calling witnesses Thursday after prosecutors concluded their case, argues that someone removed the weapon from the scene and that it may be the gun found in a police interview room trash can days after the shooting.
Kepler was charged in federal court in November in anticipation of his state manslaughter conviction being overturned by the state Court of Criminal Appeals. The appeals court ruled based on a Supreme Court ruling that Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction for crimes on tribal reservations in which the defendants or victims are tribal citizens.
Kepler is a citizen of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation and the shooting occurred on land within the tribe’s historic reservation.
This trial marks the fifth of its kind for Kepler, but the first time it's been moved to federal court. He was tried on state murder charges four times, with three trials ending in hung juries before he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison. His defense was accused of trying to intentionally eliminate Black jurors during his fourth trial, Tulsa World reported in 2017.
During the most recent trial, Kepler's daughter, Lisa Kepler, testified that she loves and forgives her father, KOTV-DT in Oklahoma reports. She told the court that she saw her dad in a black SUV at the murder scene. She recalled talking to her father and walking away before hearing three gunshots. She said that she then saw Lake fall to the ground and the SUV drive off.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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