TULSA, Okla. — Former Oklahoma police officer Shannon Kepler was convicted of second-degree murder for the 2014 killing of his daughter’s boyfriend and given a 25-year prison sentence. It was the fifth time he went to trial in the case, according to a report.
Kepler, 61, a former Tulsa police officer, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell to 300 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, ABC News reported.
Judge Frizzell also ordered the ex-officer to pay restitution to cover the cost of a headstone for Jeremey Lake, who was 19 years old when Kepler killed him.
“Kepler, at the time, was sworn to uphold the law but instead made a series of decisions that led to the young man’s murder,” U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said in a statement. “Today’s 25-year sentence provides a measure of justice to Mr. Lake’s family, though I know their healing continues.”
Kepler testified at his trial that he fired in self-defense because he believed Lake had pointed a firearm at him. However, no weapon was found at the scene.
Kepler’s attorney, Stan Monroe, didn’t immediately respond to ABC’s request for comment following the conviction.
The trial was Kepler’s fifth but his only one on federal charges. His first three murder trials in state court ended with hung juries. The fourth trial ended with a manslaughter conviction and a 15-year prison term.
However, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals vacated the manslaughter conviction in March 2021, Law Officer reported.
The overturning of the conviction follows a July 2020 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, in which the justices decided 5-4 that the eastern half of the Sooner State was a Native American reservation. As a result, it was determined that state officials lacked jurisdiction to go after the defendant—a white man who the defense says is of Muscogee descent—for an action done on this land.
Authorities saw the writing on the wall for some time, with federal prosecutors filing their own case last November.
Kepler is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and the shooting occurred on land within the tribe’s historic reservation.