Sweeney's Accused Killer Charged

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Updated: 6/04/2009 11:00 pm Published: 6/04/2009 10:41 pm

A 23-year-old man will stay behind bars in the complicated murder for hire case of Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney.

Police say Terrico Bethel was hired to shoot and kill Sweeney in a contract killing.

Bethel was arrested and jailed in February and sentenced to three years in prison on separate charges.

FOX23’s Abbie Alford spoke with a family friend who says this is a long time coming.

Exactly nine months ago Thursday, police say Bethel was hired to walk into Retail Fuels Marketing where Neal Sweeney worked and gun him down.

Sweeney died the next day at a local hospital.

Court records show Bethel has a criminal rap sheet still police believe there are other people involved in the hit.

For nine months Neal Sweeney’s friends have wondered who killed the businessman, football star, and family man.

"It wasn't a couple days ago that we thought we may never know," says David Rader.

However, today [Thursday], Rader did find out the accused triggerman in his friend's murder for hire.

But it’s not over.

“The warrant for Mr. Bethel this morning is not the end of the Neal Sweeney investigation,” says Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer.

Because of the audio problems throughout the press conference Major Matt Kirkland who oversees the detective division agreed to speak to FOX23.

Kirkland says Bethel was not personally or professionally connected to Sweeney.

"Over a period of time a business relationship that Neal Sweeney had with someone in the community went bad and that the person we believe that is also involved in this hired Terrico Bethel to kill Neal Sweeney,” says Kirkland.

An affidavit says in an informant told homicide detective Vic Regalado Bethel was the shooter.

The informant knew specific details about the murder, the layout of the office, the white van recovered in February and how many shots were fired.

A witness told the detective, Bethel said he killed Sweeney.

Bethel also told the witness the screams inside the time of the murder, the dark clothing and the “shades” used for disguise.

 But under that disguise is a 23-year-old man who’s been in trouble with the law.

Court records show Bethel has a history with police, he’s resisted and assaulted officers and has a list of gun charges but he’s never served time in prison.

So as Bethel sits in jail facing his worst charge ever, first-degree murder, Sweeney’s friends hope the people involved will be held accountable for this murder.

"We didn't think it was going to happen this fast. Someday something would come out. But to have it within a year is a phenomenal job," says Rader.

Bethel is scheduled to be in court June 11th.

Court records show in 2008 Sweeney’s business Retail Fuels Marketing filed a lawsuit against a convenient store. Four parties were involved, all but one man by the name of Muhammad Aziz were dropped from the case. Aziz was ordered to pay Sweeney’s business thousands of dollars.

There is still a $25,000 reward for information that helps police find those involved in this murder.

If you have any information call Crime Stoppers at (918) 596-COPS (2677) or text a tip to “CRIMES” (274637) and begin your message with “TIP918” or you can submit a tip online. Remember you never have to give your name and your tip could lead to a cash reward.

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