United States v. Kepler, No. 22-5006 (10th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Defendant-Appellant Shannon Kepler appealed his conviction for causing death by discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Kepler and his wife Gina Kepler both worked as officers for the Tulsa Police Department. During the summer of 2014, the Keplers began to experience conflict with their 18-year-old adopted daughter, Lisa. Kepler gained access to Lisa’s Facebook account to monitor her activity. Eventually, the Keplers kicked Lisa out of their home and dropped her off at a homeless shelter. Kepler continued to monitor Lisa’s Facebook account and discovered she was dating a man named Jeremey Lake. Using police department resources, Kepler obtained Lake’s address, phone number, and physical description. On the same day he obtained this information, Kepler armed himself with his personal revolver and drove his SUV to Lake’s address. He spotted Lisa and Lake walking together near the residence. Kepler stopped the SUV in the middle of the road, rolled down the window, and called out to Lisa. Lisa refused to talk to him and walked away. Kepler exited the vehicle to follow her.
At that point, Lake approached Kepler to introduce himself and shake his hand. Kepler drew his revolver. Lake tried to run away. Kepler shot him, once in the chest and once in the neck. Kepler then turned and fired shots in the direction of Lisa and Lake’s half-brother, M.H., who was 13 years old. Kepler then fled. Witnesses called 911. Paramedics arrived and declared Lake dead. Later that night, Kepler turned himself in to the Tulsa Police Department. At trial, Kepler admitted he shot Lake. He did not contend that he acted out of anger, provocation, or passion. Instead, he said he responded in self-defense to Lake’s threatening him with a chrome pistol. He entered into evidence the pistol discovered in a nearby trashcan and suggested that one of the witnesses took the pistol from Lake’s body and smuggled it into the police station. The jury rejected Kepler’s self-defense argument, leading to the conviction at issue here. Though Kepler argued second-degree murder was not a "crime of violence" and not a predicate offense for his conviction, the Tenth Circuit found no reversible error and affirmed Kepler's convictions and sentence.