A key witness took the stand in the high profile murder-for-hire trial.
Terrico Bethel, 26, is on trial for the 2008 murder of Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney.
Four others were charged. One committed suicide, two are awaiting trial and the accused mastermind pleaded guilty and will testify against the suspects in exchange for a lighter sentence.
A career criminal who was a notorious gang member, Dolan Prejean said he had nothing to lose when he told police about Bethel’s confession in jail.
Prejean said in April, 2009, Bethel confided in him and told him he pulled the trigger and shot Sweeney in the head September 4th, 2008.
For his protection FOX23 News is not publishing his picture.
Prejean told the jury in April, 2009, in the Tulsa County jail Bethel confided that he had done a murder with Fred Shields, “his past was going to haunt him.”
Prejean said Bethel had details about the murder, what clothes he wore and what van he drove to the murder.
He said Bethel confessed there was a woman inside the office. He walked passed her and went into Sweeney’s office and shot him.
“The woman was screaming and hollering so he left,” said Prejean.
Prejean said Bethel told him it was a, “contract killing for an Iranian man.”
That man was later identified as convenience store owner Mohammed Aziz.
Prejaun said Bethel told him Sweeney was a TU hall of famer and owned a gas company, he also says Bethel told him Fred and Alonzo Shields showed him a photo of Sweeney and he and Fred Shields cased Sweeney’s business before the shooting.
The inmate testified Bethel told him he dropped the van off at Alonzo Johnson’s shop off Admiral. He left the clothing in the van and threw out the gun.
Bethel told Prejean he got $5,000 from Johnson for the hit.
Prejean said he wrote a letter to the District Attorney. When police interviewed him, he offered to wear a wire. Bethel confessed again on audio tape.
Jurors listened to that recording. In the more than one hour recorded conversation
Bethel talked about the hit. He also said if saw the Sweeney family he would buy them something.
Prejean said he is serving time for other crimes and said he has no deal on the table for what is known as “snitching” on the streets.
Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris asked, “Why would you break the street code?”
Prejaun said he has nothing to hide.
“I gave my life to God and I wasn’t living that lifestyle.”
The lead detective testified after that confession Bethel was the first person charged.
Lead homicide detective Vic Regalado testified they investigated all of the suspects but needed more evidence.
He described the investigation as a chess game. When police would make a move so would the suspects.
Less than year after Bethel’s charge, four others were charged for the murder of Neal Sweeney.
Allen Shields, killed himself in April, 2011. Trials for Fred Shields and Alonzo Johnson are scheduled for September 17th.
Mohammed Aziz is expected to testify Thursday morning. In January, he pleaded guilty and agreed to testify truthfully against the suspects in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Other law enforcement witnesses testified about the crime scene and evidence.
DNA and fingerprints were not matched to the suspects.
Sweeney’s business partner, Thomas Howell testified about Sweeney and his work ethic as a boss.
Howell was the Vice President of Retail Fuels and described Sweeney as a respected boss and friend.
Howell said situation with Aziz was more than heated. Aziz failed to pay for fuel delivery so the gas pumps were shut off. He said without fuel you can’t money at a convenience store.
He said he and Sweeney tried to come up with a solution.
“This was the most difficult one to try to solve. There was no solution,” said Howell.
He said he was a daily barrage with Aziz. He said Sweeney would tell him that he would have come up with the money or Aziz was going to be sued.
A week after a delivery was made, Aziz’ wife came in to pay in cash.
Howell said Sweeney told Aziz’ wife, “You need to do the right thing and pay your bills. This was not personal.”
The next day Sweeney was murdered.
“There was a point in his [Aziz] life he couldn’t pay. It was a situation that he or Neal couldn’t solve. It spun out of control,” said Sweeney.
For a detailed look at the complexities of this murder plot and details about the other suspects in the plot read this story: Testimony in Sweeney murder trial.