Officer pleads not guilty in 19-year-old's death

AP News
Posted: Aug 19, 2014 1:22 PM
Officer pleads not guilty in 19-year-old's death

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Tulsa police officer on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the off-duty shooting death of his daughter's boyfriend.

Shannon Kepler, a 24-year-veteran police officer, was charged Monday in the Aug. 5 death of 19-year-old Jeremey Lake. The longtime officer is also charged with one count of shooting with intent to kill because prosecutors say he also shot at his daughter.

The court entered the plea at an arraignment for Kepler and set a preliminary hearing for Oct. 22.

His wife, Gina Kepler, was arrested in the incident on a complaint of being an accessory after the fact of murder but she has not been charged because prosecutors say they don't have evidence to support a charge.

Gina Kepler's lawyer, Scott Troy, told reporters as they left the arraignment that she was "looking forward to her husband's exoneration."

Shannon Kepler's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, provided a statement lambasting prosecutors for the charges, saying "there is not one credible eyewitness to this event."

The Keplers "are solid folks" who "did everything they knew to protect their daughter," O'Carroll said. The daughter, Lisa Kepler, was among three sisters whom the Keplers adopted from a troubled home.

Prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler, the chief of the criminal division, said later Tuesday that it was "improper for any attorney to try and litigate their case in the media," and said the facts of the case spoke for themselves.

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After the shooting, Lisa Kepler told a newspaper that her parents had kicked her out of their home and taken her to a nearby homeless shelter. The Associated Press has been unable to locate the daughter. She told the Tulsa World after Lake's death that she hoped her parents "rot in prison."

Shannon Kepler had been trying "to protect his daughter, who preferred to live in a high crime area than live in a home with rules prohibiting her from bringing men home at night, some of whom even broke into the Kepler home," O'Carroll's statement said.

"These people loved their daughter," O'Carroll added in brief remarks outside the courtroom.