Trial begins for man accused of killing Tecumseh officer; DA seeking death penalty

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POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) - The capital murder trial for a man accused of killing a Tecumseh police officer is underway in Pottawatomie County.

Byron Shepard declined to answer questions, remaining silent as he was led handcuffed into the courtroom Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

He’s accused of killing 22-year-old Justin Terney in March 2017.

Terney was a rookie officer working for the Tecumseh Police Department for just over six months.

In opening statements, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn, who is trying this case, explained to the jury how on March 26, 2017, Terney pulled over a vehicle that didn’t have a tag light.

The driver, Brooklyn Williams, was driving on a suspended license.

Shepard, her boyfriend was sitting in the passenger seat.

Dashcam video shown in court shows Shepard lied about his name, then ran into the woods when Terney called him on it.

Terney followed behind, with his backup, Asst. Chief Mike Mallinson not far behind.

Mallinson took the stand Wednesday and was brought to tears recalling the chase into the pitch black field.

Terney deployed his taser, then Shepard allegedly shot at the officer. Terney shot back and both were hit.

Mallinson described going into tactical mode once he heard the gunshots ring out, turning off his flashlight, drawn to the injured men by their shouts.

He said Terney’s final words after letting him know he hit Shepard were, “Mike, I think I’m going.”

Terney died from his wounds at the hospital.

“It’s especially tough for the assistant chief, Mike Mallinson,” said Chief Kidney. “He was there during the shooting that night beside Justin’s side as he was loaded onto the ambulance. To have to come in this morning and listen to his testimony, a very tough testimony having to relive that night. A very difficult situation.”

It’s the second time many close to the case have had to sit through similar testimony. In February, Williams was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison for her role in Terney’s death.

“Tecumseh police department, the family, are just ready to get this behind us so that the more healing can begin after the trial is over,” Chief Kidney said. “We do have to let the jurors know exactly what happened that night, and having to relive it and re-testify with it, we’re hoping that the healing’s going to be worth it.”

This time around, the uniform and gear Terney was wearing in the courtroom were on display for the jurors so prosecutors could show the bullet holes where he was hit.

“That was something that we did get a heads up on from the prosecution team, and I was really glad of that,” the chief said. “That would be something if you just got that sprung on you in the heat of the moment, that would have been tough to see.”

Missing off of it on Wednesday was his nameplate, which Chief Kidney said he was buried in.

Shepard’s court-appointed attorneys argued that while this was an awful thing to happen, Shepard didn’t want to kill Terney.

His attorney pointed out that in the several minutes Shepard and Terney were standing near the car, Shepard had a gun concealed in his waistband the entire time.

She said had he wanted to kill him, Shepard could have pulled it out and shot him anytime but he didn’t because he just wanted to get away.

Testimony will continue Thursday morning in the Pottawatomie County Courthouse.

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