Family and friends of man convicted of killing Tecumseh police officer beg for his life in court

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POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. - Emotional testimony continued in the courtroom Thursday, this time tears shed for the man convicted of murdering a Tecumseh police officer.

Byron Shepard was convicted by a jury Monday of the first-degree murder of 22-year-old Tecumseh police officer Justin Terney.

Now the state is seeking the death penalty as Shepard's attorneys try to convince that same jury to have mercy.

On the third day in the sentencing phase of the trial, Shepard's attorneys called Shepard's friends and family. That included his mother who was described as being addicted to drugs for most of his life.

Testimony recounted alleged verbal and physical abuse Shepard was subjected to as a child, a chaotic home life among drug users, and his generosity for those he cared for. All asked or even begged for his life to be spared, saying things like "he never had a chance," and "he doesn't deserve this."

"Nobody deserves it but a 22-year- old, a young police officer just getting a career started in law enforcement didn`t deserve it either and it's up to that jury to decide who deserves what," said Tecumseh Police Chief J.R. Kidney. "When I hear that kind of testimony, I go back to that night and I think you know, Justin would have loved to have another chance.

Shepard's 18-year-old daughter also took the stand, immediately bursting into tears. She said that while she's not like her father, she doesn't want to lose him from her life.

Her tears evoked emotion from Shepard for the first time in the trial, also breaking down.

Hers was some of the testimony some members of Terney's family chose not to be present for.

"At this point in time, it's hard to see the good. It's hard to sit and listen to that when you know that that person is the person that took the life of your brother," Chief Kidney said. "So who deserves what in this, again, we're going to leave that up to the jury."

Closing statements are scheduled to begin Friday morning. After that, the decision on Shepard's punishment will be turned over to the jury.


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