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Ex-cop’s 15-year manslaughter conviction overturned on McGirt ruling

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer

On Thursday the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the manslaughter conviction of a former Tulsa police officer based on the Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, issued last Summer, that states much of Eastern Oklahoma is an American Indian reservation and the state lacks jurisdiction. 

A judge sentenced former officer Shannon Kepler in 2017 to 15 years in prison in his fourth trial. The first three ended in mistrials due to hung juries. The final one convicted Kepler of manslaughter in the first degree in the shooting death of 19-year-old Jeremy Lake.

In August of 2014 an off-duty Kepler drove to the house of Lake with a loaded revolver dressed in a black jacket and black stocking cap to avoid detection. Using police resources Kepler was able to pull up state records of Lake. They included Lake’s home address, which is a violation of TPD policies. He was also off-duty at the time.

Kepler killed black teen for dating white daughter

Kepler was upset that his white 18-year-old daughter, who he had kicked out of his house, was in a relationship with a black Jeremy Lake. On the day of his murder, Lake and Kepler’s daughter posted their relationship on Facebook.

For three years Kepler remained free while trial after trial ended in hung juries. It’s extremely rare for three mistrials in a criminal case.

In November of 2020 federal prosecutors filed a first-degree murder charge against Kepler. They anticipated it after he appealed his conviction, citing McGirt. 

“In anticipation that Shannon Kepler’s state murder conviction would be dismissed by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Kepler in a three-count indictment for the murder of Jermey Lake,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “We did so in November to ensure a seamless and timely transition from state to federal court once the decision was made.”

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