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GUILTY: David Ware guilty on all counts, including murder of TPD Sgt. Johnson

FILE - David Ware sits in a courtroom Monday, April 4, 2022, in Tulsa, Okla., as jury selection begins for his trial in the shootings of Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan. (Pool photo/Mike Simons/Tulsa World)
FILE - David Ware sits in a courtroom Monday, April 4, 2022, in Tulsa, Okla., as jury selection begins for his trial in the shootings of Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan. (Pool photo/Mike Simons/Tulsa World)
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TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- David Ware has been found guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder in the death of Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson.

Ware was also found guilty on the charge of shooting with intent to kill for severely wounding Officer Aurash Zarkeshan during the late-night traffic stop on June 29, 2020.

The jury took less than three hours to reach their verdict after closing arguments Friday. Sentencing begins Monday morning.

Jurors also found Ware guilty on charges of possession of a firearm, unlawful possession, and obstructing an officer.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler is seeking the death penalty for Ware. This is Tulsa County's first death penalty trial in over a decade.

NewsChannel 8 Reporter Daniela Ibarra has been in the courtroom each day covering the trial. Below, see a full recap of what took place in court before the verdict was read, with the newest updates on top.

Chief Franklin spoke with NewsChannel 8 after the verdict, calling Ware “evil.”


BREAKING NEWS: The jury has reached a verdict.


BREAKING NEWS: The judge is excusing the jury for deliberations.


Defense attorney Adams just finished his closing arguments.

State is making its summation. ADA Gray will do that.

Gray has a picture on his computer of Johnson’s vest. He isn’t showing it to jurors but said he’s been looking at it to remind him what this case is all about.

“It was a vest that was supposed to make sure you didn’t have to do this,” Gray said to the jury.

“Watching those videos is one of the worst things you will ever do in your life,” said Gray.

He said jurors needed to see it because it’s their job. He said it will stick with them for the rest if their lives.

“He deprived Sgt. Johnson on his unalienable right to life,” Gray said of Ware.

Gray said Ware “didn’t give a damn” about the Constitution or Declaration of Independence. Defense attorney Adams had mentioned the Constitution or Declaration of Independence during his arguments.

Gray says Ware was not afraid of the tow, but afraid of the search.

“This is a search for the truth,” said Gray.

He said Ware had an illegal gun and drugs, didn’t want to go to jail, had 50 opportunities to get out of the car. Gray says Ware was the only person who produced and fired a gun.

“Common sense will show you what happened to Craig Johnson,” said Gray. He said Ware used two hands to fire fatal shot to Johnson’s head.

“You only have a gun if you intend to use it,” said Gray.

Gray asked the jurors if they saw the look on Ware’s face when Ware testified all he wanted to do was “incapacitate” the officers.

Gray: “Mr. Ware doesn’t like to follow by the rules. Mr. Ware doesn’t like to play by the rules.”

Gray: “When you make an adult decision, you get adult consequences.”

Gray said Ware made the wrong choices on June 29, 2020.

“I’m truly, truly sorry that he did.”

Gray pointed at Ware.

“All we’re asking is that in exchange for his very adult decision, you give him some very adult consequences.”


Court back in session. Defense attorney Kevin Adams is making his closing arguments.

Adams is very emotional.

“I never thought I’d be made fun of in the biggest moment in my life,” said Adams. He says this is the biggest case in Ware’s life and his own professional life. Adams said he’s struggled with a speech impediment his whole life and struggles with words like Zarkeshan’s name.

Adams said he planned to start closing arguments with talking about the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. “I never imagined I’d have to start by defending myself.”

He says he is going to start with something he knows a lot about — bullies.

Adams: “This whole idea about labeling people, he does that, he does this. It’s the core of human cruelty.”

Adams is now talking about the Bill of Rights.

Adams referenced the sentence he asked jurors to finish during selection. “The truth is ___.”

Adams says some truths are hard to believe. He is showing jurors a screenshot of Zarkeshan’s Facebook page, where he said he worked at waste management.

Now Adams is talking about the traffic stop.

Adams said during the traffic stop, Zarkeshan “doesn’t like the looks of Ware.”

Adams is showing the jury a still shot from the video of the traffic stop. It shows Johnson kicking Ware.

“You guys have done something that most members of the Tulsa Police Department haven’t,” said Adams to the jurors. “You watched the video.”

Adams has said the truth of what happened is in the video.

“That all up to you guys” to determine credibility, said Adams. The judge also instructed them to do so.

Adams says Ware was being treated “like trash.”

“When an officer starts doing this they stop being a law enforcement officer and become a law-breaker,” said Adams referring to the traffic stop.

“I know there’s a lot going on in our society,” said Adams, talking about Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. “All lives matters.”

Adams said, “You should support law enforcement when they’re upholding the Constitution of the United States.”

Adams made a comment about the media being dishonest.

“If you truly back the blue, then you have to admit the hard truth that its bad officers like that that made good officers look bad,” said Adams about Zarkeshan and Johnson. “And that’s the truth.”

Adams is showing the jury pictures of Ware after his arrest.

Adams talked about Kunzweiler saying Ware was an admitted liar.

“At least he’s admitted, right?” said Adams.

Adams is bringing up the lack of a time stamp on Johnson’s body camera video and Zarkeshan’s body camera muting.

Adams brings up how several of the officers got emotional on the stand while affirming they could be objective. Adams says you can’t have both.

Adams: “That’s what this case comes down to, it comes down to intent.”


Ware’s attorney, Kevin Adams, asked for a break. Court in recess until 3:30.


State is now making its closing argument.

“There’s a felon sitting in your midst,” said DA Kunzweiler, adding he’s a two-time felon.

Kunzweiler said during Ware’s testimony, Ware was readily able to answer. When Assistant District Attorney Gray cross-examined Ware, Kunzweiler said, “You got to see who he was.”

Kunzweiler says Ware is an “obstructionist.”

“Is there really any doubt he didn’t know who he was in contact with?” argued Kunzweiler about Ware.

Kunzweiler said Ware had a problem when he was pulled over, citing the gun and drugs in the car.

“You see David Ware from the get-go obstructing,” said Kunzweiler.

Kunzweiler said during the state’s cross-examination of Ware, “It was like pulling teeth” to get him to acknowledge who he was.

Kunzweiler is talking about the “debt list” police found on Ware’s refrigerator door.

“You know that Mr. Ware is a two-time convicted felon,” said Kunzweiler. “You know that Ware is an obstructionist.”

He added that Ware is a drug dealer and knew he should not own a firearm.

“He’s an admitted liar,” said Kunzweiler.

Some of the jurors are nodding.

“There were points in this trial that I wondered, ‘What the heck is going on?’” said Kunzweiler.

“It seemed to me like there was an effort to introduce nuance,” said Kunzweiler of the defense.

“What’s the purpose of them trying to plant a seed in your head about staging evidence?” said Kunzweiler of the defense’s argument.

Adams is “asking questions like that so you will be distracted,” said Kunzweiler. “Mr. Gray and I had to clarify and clear that up.”

Kunzweiler tells the jury they saw the desperate measures used to save the two officers’ lives.

“That last interaction between David Ware and Sgt. Johnson doesn’t look good,” said Kunzweiler of the body cam footage.

Kunzweiler said Adams is an experienced lawyer. For two years, Kunzweiler said Adams knew Officer Zarkeshan survived the alleged shooting. Adams has pronounced Zarkeshan’s name wrong several times during the trial, and asked Zarkeshan on the stand to pronounce it.

Kunzweiler said Ware remembered the shooting in detail.

Kunzweiler is showing the jury pictures of Ware after he was arrested. Kunzweiler said Ware has tattoos on the back of each arm that says “hard,” the other says “core.”

Kunzweiler: “I don’t know how you couldn’t be more proud” of how officers responded and processed the scene. Kunzweiler sounded emotional.

Kunzweiler is talking about Ware’s getaway.

“He’s a murderer,” said Kunzweiler.

Kunzweiler is pointing out some of the juror instructions.

Kunzweiler called Ware’s reasoning behind shooting the officers “ridiculous.” Ware testified Thursday that he was trying to shoot the officers in their body armor to “incapacitate” them.

Kunzweiler showed jurors the bag with Sgt. Johnson’s vest that had to be cut off of him. He said officers “wish that it would have made a difference, but it didn’t.”

Kunzweiler said when Ware shot Johnson in the head, “That shot alone is enough to convict him with murder in the first degree.”


Court back in session, and the judge is reading the jury their instructions. Here are the charges Ware is facing. He’s pleaded not guilty to all of them:

  • Murder in the first degree, a felony
  • Shooting with intent to kill, felony
  • Possession of firearm, felony
  • Unlawful possession, felony
  • Obstructing an officer, misdemeanor


The judge ruled against giving the jury self-defense instructions before they begin deliberations. The judge ruled that Ware was not acting in self defense.

The judge also ruled the jury can’t consider any lesser offense than first-degree murder.


Both sides have rested.

Judge is telling jurors to return at 1:20 for closing statements and jury instruction. After that, the judge said they will immediately begin deliberations. They will not be excused until they reach a verdict.


Adams showed Richert a screenshot of body camera footage showing Johnson kicked Ware during a June 2020 traffic stop. He asked if that’s something they learned in training.

Richert: “If it’s necessary, I guess.”

Richert dismissed.


DA: In the time frame that you worked with Johnson, did he follow the rules?

Richert said yes.

State passes to defense for recross.


Adams asked Richert if she had done a media interview about the incident. She couldn’t remember which station, but our records show she talked to NewsChannel 8 in 2020 about this arrest.

Adams asked Richert to identify Johnson in a picture. She said it fit the profile.

Defense passes to state for redirect.


Court is in session.

State calls its first rebuttal witnesses— former Tulsa Police Officer Jennifer Richert. She was with the department for 11 years.

Richert got emotional when she was asked by the DA If she knew Johnson. He was a fellow officer.

Richert said in July 2006, she and Johnson responded to a public intoxication call. It was David Ware.

Richert said Ware was in handcuffs kicking at Johnson more than once, spat at Johnson at least four times.

Richert said Johnson warned Ware if his behavior didn’t stop, he’d get pepper spray. She said the warning happened three times. Richert said Ware threatened to kill Johnson.

DA asked Richert if Johnson beat Ware up. She said she didn’t remember anything like that happening.

“That wasn’t like Craig,” she said.

State passes Richert over to defense for cross-examination.


Today the state (only the state) could put rebuttal witnesses on the stand.

Both sides could make closing arguments today.

The judge could also make some rulings on how the jury could be instructed.

Click here to read what's happened and who's testified in court so far.

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