TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A former police officer in Oklahoma has been convicted of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his daughter’s boyfriend, but a federal jury acquitted him of first-degree murder.
The jury on Monday found Shannon Kepler, 60, “guilty of using and discharging a firearm in the second degree murder of Jeremey Lake, acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said in a statement. It also found him guilty on an assault charge for shooting and wounding Lake’s brother.
The former Tulsa officer faces a minimum of 10 years up to life in prison for murder and 10 years for assault. Under federal guidelines, the sentences cannot be served concurrently.
Defense attorney Stan Monroe said Kepler will appeal.
“He’s 60 years old so there is a fair possibility he may spend the rest of his life in prison,” Monroe said. “He’s going to keep fighting … appeal after the sentencing hearing and we’ll see what the 10th Circuit (Court of Appeals) says,” Monroe said.
Testifying Friday, Kepler said he fired in self-defense because he thought Lake pointed a handgun at him. No gun was found at the scene.
Monroe has argued that someone removed the weapon and that it may be a gun that was found in a police interview room trash can days later. Police have not determined how the gun ended up in the trash can. An FBI agent said the weapon was traced to a home struck by a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013.
The trial was Kepler’s fifth. His first three state trials for murder ended with hung juries, and the fourth ended with a manslaughter conviction and a 15 year prison term.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that conviction based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction for crimes on tribal reservations in which the defendants or victims are tribal citizens.
Kepler is a citizen of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation and the shooting occurred on land within the tribe’s historic reservation.
Kepler was charged in federal court in November with first- and second-degree murder and assault in anticipation of his state manslaughter conviction being overturned.
The jury convicted him on the second-degree murder and the assault charges.