Saturday marked the third mistrial in nine months for a former Tulsa, Okla., police officer who admittedly shot and killed his daughter’s black 19-year-old boyfriend.
The Associated Press reports that the Tulsa prosecutor on the case expressed shock when District Judge Sharon Holmes again declared a mistrial in the case against Shannon Kepler (Holmes has overseen all three trials), because jurors had deliberated for only a few hours.
“I have never experienced that procedure before in my life,” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said, noting that judges often tell juries to continue deliberating after such a short amount of time.
Kepler doesn’t deny shooting 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, but claims he was acting in self-defense. Kepler testified that Lake was armed, although police didn’t find a weapon on Lake or at the scene. The shooting happened shortly after Lake had started dating Kepler’s then-18-year-old daughter, Lisa.
Attorneys said jurors deliberated for just 2 ½ to three hours on Friday before saying they were deadlocked 6-6. Holmes reminded jurors that the trial had started June 27 and asked whether that changed their minds. When they said no, the judge declared a mistrial.
Kunzweiler said that he will re-evaluate the 2014 case, taking into account the cost of retrying it, and decide before an Aug. 1 status conference whether to try Kepler for a fourth time.
Unlike the previous two trials, Judge Holmes had instructed jurors that they could convict Kepler of first-degree murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Kunzweiler said that it was unclear whether the jury’s deadlock was six for conviction and six for acquittal or six for murder and six for the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Juries in Kepler’s previous two trials, in November and February, deadlocked 11-1 and 10-2 in favor of guilt before Holmes declared mistrials after up to 12 hours of deliberations in each case.
Kepler, who retired from the force after he was charged, was a 24-year police veteran who said that he was trying to protect his daughter, who had run away from home and to “crime-ridden neighborhoods.”
Looks as if another cop will get off for shooting a young, unarmed black person.
Read more at NBC4 Washington.