Testimony continues in case against former Tulsa police officer accused of murder

By: Tiffany Alaniz

Updated:

TULSA, Okla. - Quick facts:

  • Opening statements began Thursday in the case of a former Tulsa police officer accused of first-degree murder.
  • Shannon Kepler is accused of killing his daughter's boyfriend.
  • Jury selection ended Thursday, and witnesses took the stand both Thursday and Friday.

 

Four witnesses nearby during the death of Jeremy Lake said they never saw a weapon on him, nor did they see anyone remove one from his body, despite claims from a former Tulsa police officer's defense.

Witness testimony began in the case of Shannon Kepler Thursday.

Kepler is accused of shooting and killing Jeremy Lake.

Prosecutors say Lisa Kepler, Shannon Kepler's daughter, met Jeremy Lake when her parents dropped her off at the homeless shelter where he helped out.

Lisa reportedly started staying with Jeremy Lake's aunt while her parents looked for her over a number of days.

Prosecutors say Shannon Kepler was able to track Lisa at Lake's house, and when Lake walked up to Kepler's car to say hello, the former Tulsa officer shot Jeremy twice before opening fire on their daughter and at the house, where Lake's younger brother was hit by shrapnel.

The defense argued that Kepler had a clean record, 25 years as an officer, decades of marriage to his wife and three adopted daughters. They argued Lisa had emotional problems, prompting the parents to tell her she would have to either get her life together or move out.

The defense said that Kepler took his daughter to the shelter in order to "scare her straight." They said Kepler knew Lake carried a hunting knife and had been charged with battery. They said Lake wouldn't move, and Kepler noticed he had a gun, so he opened fire.

They said Kepler acted in self-defense and they have cell phone records to prove that his wife was not in the car.

Lisa Kepler began to testify Thursday, but she broke down during two separate attempts. She said her parents kicked her out and dropped her off at a homeless shelter with only medication and an ID. She said the Kepler family had adopted her when she was only six.

While at the shelter, Lisa Kepler said she met Lake. She said she stayed with him at his aunt's house, and that Lake had just went to check on some homeless people under a nearby bridge when her father rolled up in an SUV.

She said she heard her dad, but then she began to have a panic attack on the stand. Friday, when she returned to the stand, she told the jury her father arrived to the house, and asked what she was doing there. As she walked away, she said her father said something then opened fire. She said she took cover behind a bush.

Lisa Kepler said she did not like living with the Keplers, because they would not let her leave the house. She said Shannon Kepler even held her against the wall by her throat to keep her from leaving once.

The defense said Lisa's testimony was not consistent with her testimony during a preliminary hearing, when she reportedly said she saw her father step out of the car. In Friday's statement, she said she could not say if she saw him get out of the car.

Lisa Kepler told the court she has been suffering from postpartum depression after the recent birth of her child.

Neighbors testified they heard gunshots and rushed to help, then hearing Lisa Kepler screaming that her father had shot Lake.

One woman said she had tried to provide medical aid, but she was unable to save Lake and he died after the driver of the SUV drove away.

Another neighbor said that the driver of the SUV pulled away as Lake lay dying on the ground.

All four neighbors that testified said they never saw a weapon on Lake, nor did they see anyone remove a weapon from his body.

Three Tulsa police officers who responded to the scene also took the stand Friday. The medical examiner said Lake was shot once in the neck and the chest, and the wounds are not consistent with those at close range. She said the wounds did not show any signs that he was involved in a gunfight, but rather suggested he was on the receiving end of a shooting.

The district attorney expects to wrap up testimony Monday.

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