TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A judge on Friday set an $825,000 bond for a veteran Tulsa police officer charged in the off-duty fatal shooting of his daughter’s boyfriend earlier this month.
Judge Cliff Smith also ordered 54-year-old Shannon Kepler to turn over any firearms in his house to authorities if he were to post bond; not leave Tulsa County unless he had written permission from the court; and make no attempts to contact either his daughter, Lisa Kepler, or family members of the victim, 19-year-old Jeremey Lake.
Prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler sought a bond of $1.5 million for the first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill charges, telling Smith during a hearing that Kepler planned the shooting and “tried to get away with it” after the alleged crime occurred.
Jeremey Lake, 19 years old
Kepler’s defense attorney, Richard O’Carroll, requested bond “under $50,000” for the 24-year police officer, arguing that the state’s witnesses were not credible.
“We’re talking about people who have been on TV who are enjoying their celebrity,” he said in court.
O’Carroll refused to comment after the hearing about whether he thought his client would be able to post bond but said he planned to appeal the amount. District Attorney Tim Harris left court without commenting.
Kepler pleaded not guilty earlier this week in the Aug. 5 shooting death; the case is set for preliminary hearing on Oct. 22. Authorities allege Kepler shot Lake after Lake introduced himself as Lisa Kepler’s boyfriend.
About a dozen of Kepler’s family members and friends showed up at the hearing to show their support. Among them was Kepler’s wife, Gina — also a 24-year veteran of the force. Gina Kepler had been arrested along with her husband on a complaint of being an accessory after the fact of murder but prosecutors declined this week to charge her.
Shackled and dressed in an orange jail uniform, Shannon Kepler mostly kept his head down during the hearing.
O’Carroll called a fellow officer, Sara O’Mara, as a character witness. O’Mara, a 26-year veteran of the force, described Shannon Kepler as “a gentle man” who is a devoted husband and father.
The shooting occurred a week after the Keplers kicked daughter Lisa Kepler out of their home. She met Lake at a homeless shelter where Lake was a volunteer and eventually was taken in by Lake’s family. According to Lisa Kepler, Shannon Kepler found the two outside Lake’s home and confronted them. Lake was attempting to introduce himself to Shannon Kepler when Kepler shot and killed him. “There was no argument,” said Lisa Kepler. “I walked away and Jeremey introduced himself and my dad shot him.”
Earlier this week, Gina Kepler’s lawyer, Scott Troy, told reporters 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.
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. 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 Keplerhome,” O’Carroll’s statement said.
“These people loved their daughter,” O’Carroll added in brief remarks outside the courtroom.
TPM contributed to this report.