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Defense attorney for Shannon Kepler seeks double jeopardy ruling ahead of 4th murder trial

Shannon Kepler (KTUL/file)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Former Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler has faced three separate juries in the state's bid to convict him of murdering his daughter's boyfriend. All three attempts ended in mistrials, and Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler has already announced plans to pursue a fourth trial.

Even without a verdict after three trials, Kepler's defense attorney is now asking the court to attach double jeopardy to the case.

Kepler is accused of shooting and killing 19-year-old Jeremey Lake in 2014. He has claimed self-defense in each trial but witnesses have testified that Lake was unarmed.

Kepler's first murder trial ended 11-1 in favor of guilty. The second, 10-2. During the third trial, the court declared a mistrial just two and a half hours into deliberations with jurors split down the middle.

In a motion to dismiss the case filed Monday, defense attorney Richard O'Carroll writes with regard to the third trial, "based on the judge's inquiry of each individual juror, we know that the jury unanimously agreed there was insufficient evidence to decide the case. Hence, the jury de facto found Mr. Kepler was not guilty."

O'Carroll writes that, in this case, double jeopardy should apply.

"Defendants must be protected from the unfairness of a mistrial declaration designed to give the government a [fourth] chance to convict when the first is going badly," reads the motion.

Kepler is due back in court Tuesday for a status hearing.

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