POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A murdered police officer’s family took the stand Tuesday, urging a jury to sentence the officer’s convicted killer to death.
Byron Shepard was found guilty of Justin Terney’s murder Monday. Now prosecutors are arguing he should get the death sentence.
District Attorney Greg Mashburn explained to the court he plans to prove four things he said aggravated this murder: that Terney was a police officer in the performance of his duties, that he was shot and killed to prevent a lawful arrest, that Shepard is a continued threat to society, and that when Shepard killed Terney, he had previously been convicted of a violent offense.
“All four of those things are what we allege to prove that this was an aggravated murder and deserves the death penalty,” Mashburn said
He called several witnesses who were victims of alleged violence done by Shepard in the past, including an ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend.
The state also called a man who Shepard had allegedly lured into a garage and beaten with a metal pipe after finding out he had a relationship with Shepard’s wife at the time.
“It’s important for the jury to understand his history and the reason why all of that goes to leading up to the murder,” Mashburn said. “And then that shows that he continues to be a continued threat to society.”
Meanwhile, Shepard’s defense attorneys asked that the jurors have mercy and sympathy.
Under their questioning, Shepard’s past romantic partners testified that he was the victim of abuse by a neglectful mother and some of his stepfathers, and that he was introduced to methamphetamine as a young teen by his mother’s friend.
They also said in court that it was only when he was on drugs that he was violent or aggressive.
But Tecumseh Police Chief J.R. Kidney is one of those in the courtroom who was not swayed by that testimony.
“He had every opportunity by living with his grandparents to turn out to be a productive citizen,” Kidney said.
Terney’s older siblings had jurors wiping away tears as they remembered their 22-year-old brother living out his lifelong dream to be a police officer. They described the scene of his death in the hospital as a nightmare they continue to relive.
On Wednesday, the defense attorneys said they plan to call Shepard’s family members to the stand, as well as professionals they said they hope will not excuse but explain Shepard’s state of mind the night Terney was killed.