TULSA, Okla. — An Oklahoma judge Monday ruled that a white former police officer will face a fourth murder trial in the 2014 killing of his daughter’s black boyfriend.
Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes overruled motions filed by attorneys for former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler to dismiss the case.
Defense attorneys argued to have the case thrown out of court on several grounds in the months since Kepler’s third mistrial was declared.
One motion said Kepler is a member of an American Indian tribe and can’t be tried by state prosecutors. Another claimed repeated trials violated Kepler’s right to due process.
Kepler, 57, is charged in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Jeremey Lake. The shooting occurred while Kepler was off-duty. His trial is scheduled to start on Oct. 9.
Holmes has presided over all of Kepler’s previous trials. In Kepler’s most recent trial, held in July, jurors deadlocked 6-6 after almost three hours of deliberations.
Kepler doesn’t deny shooting Lake, but he told investigators that he acted in self-defense because he thought Lake was armed. Police found no weapon on Lake or at the scene.
Kepler, who retired from the police force after he was charged, was a 24-year police veteran who has said he was trying to protect his 18-year-old daughter, who had run away from home and was living in a crime-ridden neighborhood.
Defense attorney Richard O’Carroll said Lisa Kepler had been in and out of a homeless shelter after her father prohibited her from bringing men into his house.
O’Carroll has said it would be inappropriate to bring Kepler to trial a fourth time.
“The state’s theory does not make sense,” O’Carroll said following Kepler’s third mistrial. “At some stage, I think the state has to re re-evaluate their evidence. They threw the kitchen sink at Mr. Kepler. They got everything that they asked for.”
Juries in Kepler’s first 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.