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Judge: Gregory K. Frizzell
Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (Tulsa County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Tulsa, Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with second degree murder.
Former police officer Shannon Kepler, 61, was sentenced today in federal court for killing Jeremey Lake on Aug. 5, 2014.
U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Kepler to 25 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. Per the family’s request, he further ordered Kepler to pay restitution in an amount to cover the cost of a headstone for the victim. Kepler was sentenced for using a firearm in the commission of second degree murder. A separate assault charge for firing at Lake’s brother was previously dismissed by Judge Frizzell due to the statute of limitations.
During sentencing, Jeremey’s father spoke in court. He described the emotional and physical toll taken by his first-born son’s death and the subsequent trials. He described how difficult it was to think of his son suffering while the defendant drove away from the crime scene.
Jeremey’s father and the family members who submitted letters reminded the Court that Jeremey never had the chance to grow into the man he had hoped to become for his unborn child. They explained that prior to his death, Jeremey found a steady residence and intended to go to welding school. They also spoke about his selflessness and willingness to help others, as evidenced by his volunteer work at the homeless shelter. One family member explained that the only place she could speak to Jeremey now was at his grave.
“Nineteen-year-old Jeremey Lake died almost immediately after Shannon Kepler gunned him down in the street in 2014,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “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. Today’s 25-year sentence provides a measure of justice to Mr. Lake’s family, though I know their healing continues. It also serves as a reminder that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will hold individuals accountable for acts of violence in our community.”
A federal jury convicted Kepler in April 2021 for killing Lake.
A week prior to Lake’s 2014 murder, Kepler dropped off his 18-year-old daughter at a homeless shelter with no extra clothing, no money, and no cell phone. He later logged into his daughter’s Facebook account while he was at work and saw that she had newly changed her status to being “in a relationship” with Jeremey Lake. Kepler then used police databases to gather information on Lake and printed off police reports about the victim. The day of the crime, Kepler put on dark clothing, used his wife’s dark SUV, then travelled after dark to Lake’s last known address with a loaded revolver in the waistband of his pants.
After seeing Lake and Lisa Kepler around 9 pm, Kepler approached Lake and shot him in the street on North Maybelle Avenue, near downtown Tulsa. After shooting the victim twice through the chest, he turned and fired in the direction of his own daughter, the victim’s brother, and a third witness to the killing. Lake died at the scene.
At the time of the murder, Kepler was a 24-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department.
Kepler appealed his 2017 State manslaughter conviction for the killing on grounds that his case should have been tried in federal court based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma. Kepler is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation, and the shooting took place on the nation’s Reservation.
The FBI and Tulsa Police Department joined forces to lead the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross E. Lenhardt and Sean J. Taylor prosecuted the case. Mr. Lenhardt is a prosecutor from the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Taylor is a prosecutor from the Eastern District of Texas. Both volunteered to assist prosecution efforts in the Northern District of Oklahoma due to increased jurisdictional responsibilities regarding crimes that occur on the Muscogee, Cherokee and Quapaw Nations’ Reservations involving Native American victims or defendants.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.