Justice is not always blind and it isn’t always quick, but, in the case of the State of Oklahoma vs. Kepler it is steady despite some improbable early outcomes. Former Tulsa Police officer Shannon Kepler is heading back to trial for first degree murder of Jeremey Lake, the 19-year-old boyfriend of Kepler’s daughter Lisa Kepler. Of course, this trial is of some interest because Lake is black and so is District Judge Sharon Holmes. The defense is saying the judge isn’t being fair to their side without specifically addressing her race. Lake is a man of mixed race and that has people wondering if a Tulsa jury can try a white policeman for murdering someone who was part African American. The Keplers are White. Not only is Kepler on trial, so is justice in Tulsa, Okla.


This yet to be told story is fast moving and is changing on the hour as Tulsa waits to see if an unarmed man can get justice for being black and befriending a troubled young woman. Justice is blind and sometimes one must wait. The struggle of every great change is marked by lost battles before the war is won. Is it fair? We will find out. Ninety percent of the jurors in two separate trials say Kepler murdered an unarmed Lake. But, our system requires 100 percent certainty before finding someone guilty of the worst crime.

Photo Credit Loyola University
Photo Credit Loyola University

For a trial not about race, it seems to permeate everywhere you turn. It is also a case that at this point changes on the hour. What is strange about this case is that there is a lot of attention on Shannon Kepler. An ex-policeman who admitted he shot and killed a man he says was armed, and like all Tulsans, in fear for their lives.  No weapon was found. There is a fair amount of attention on Lisa Kepler and her life. She was kicked out of her home by her father and left at a homeless shelter where reportedly she met Lake and stayed at his family home. Her father’s attorneys have attempted to taint her character for reportedly drug dealing and prostitution. She was arrested Tuesday night for possession of cannabis in Mannford, Okla. She isn’t on trial in this case, she is a witness who was fired on by her father as well, and her character isn’t on trial. The prosecution is working to keep that information away from the final jury selected.

There is also a lot of attention given to Judge Holmes. She will preside over this case for a third time. The defense has tried numerous times to have her removed stating she is not fair and impartial. Her race is not mentioned but it sure feels like it is an issue, as are the jurors. The defense worked hard to give Kepler an all-white jury and only one African American was on each of the two hung juries. One juror posted on Facebook his anger at two white jurors who did not want to convict a white man of murdering a black man and refused to talk to the rest of the jury. And what about Lake?

What is his story and why isn’t this story about him? What kind of man was he? The law says every life has value and no one can take another person’s life without just cause. To be sure the State is seeking justice for the forgotten member of this drama that isn’t about race but seems to be about nothing but race since Shannon Kepler stepped out of his vehicle after lying in wait for Lake and fired five shots at him, two of them striking him in the neck and chest. This is what is known as burying the lead.

Despite last second appeals for recusal and other motions regarding a Canadian company involved in helping to select potential jurors, Judge Holmes is staying on course and it appears opening statements will soon be made on this trial for justice for Jeremey Lake. He and his family have waited long enough.