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A former Oklahoma police officer was sentenced to 25 years in prison after five trials for gunning down his daughter’s boyfriend in 2014.
Shannon Kepler was a 24-yer veteran of the Tulsa Police Department at the time of the crime.
“Nineteen-year-old Jeremey Lake died almost immediately after Shannon Kepler gunned him down in the street in 2014,” U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said in a statement. “Kepler, at the time, was sworn to uphold the law but instead made a series of decisions that led to the young man’s murder. Today’s 25-year sentence provides a measure of justice to Mr. Lake’s family, though I know their healing continues.”
Kepler and his wife were having behavioral issues with their adopted daughter Lisa, who had recently turned 18.
A week before the murder, Kepler left her at a homeless shelter without extra clothing, no money and no cell phone, prosecutors said.
He later logged into his daughter’s Facebook account while at work and discovered that she was “in a relationship” with Lake.
The relationship “alarmed” Kepler, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Kepler used police databases and other work resources to search Lake’s history. He found that Lake was the victim of child abuse at a very young age and was previously charged as a juvenile for pushing a social services worker. He was not convicted, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern District of Oklahoma.
On the day of the murder, Kepler changed into dark clothing, used his wife’s SUV, and went to Lake’s last known address with a loaded .357 magnum revolver in the waistband of his pants, prosecutors said.
He spotted Lake and Lisa Kepler at 9 pm. He tried to talk with his daughter, but she rebuffed him. He shot Lake twice in the chest and then aimed the weapon at his daughter, the victim’s brother, and another witness. Lake died at the scene.
Kepler testified that he shot Lake in self-defense after he pointed a handgun at him, but the gun was not found at the murder scene, according to WMAQ.
At the request of the victim’s family, Judge Gregory Frizzell also ordered Kepler to cover the cost of Lake’s headstone.
Kepler’s attorneys have indicated that he plans to appeal, according to WMAQ.
His first three trials ended with juries deadlocking on the murder charge. In 2017, he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, but that conviction was overturned on jurisdictional grounds. He was convicted of second-degree murder by a federal grand jury in April.
During the sentencing, Kepler said that he regretted that Lake “lost his life,” and that if he could go back and change things he would in a “New York minute,” according to Tulsa World.
Lake’s father was one of several victim’s impact statements presented to the judge.
Carl Morris said he was deeply depressed after his son’s murder.
“The last thing he ever said to me was, ‘I love you, Dad,’” Morris said according to Tulsa World. “I will never get to hear him say that again. I feel like there is a hole in my life that can never be filled.”
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