Jury Hears Emotional Victim Impact Statements In Sentencing Hearing Of Man Convicted In Tecumseh Officer's Death
POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Oklahoma - The trial against a man convicted of murdering a Tecumseh police officer moved into the sentencing phase Tuesday, with the state asking jurors to consider the death penalty.
After 55 minutes of deliberation Monday, the Pottawatomie County jury convicted Byron Shepard of first-degree murder in the 2017 killing of officer Justin Terney.
Tuesday, jurors heard from Terney’s two sisters and brother.
“I watched the life drain out of him,” Tinisha Rapp told teary-eyed jurors. “I wouldn’t wish this broken heart on anyone. It does not get easier.”
State prosecutors listed four aggravating factors as reasons Shepard should be sentenced to death. They cited his violent prior convictions, killing a peace officer, killing someone in an attempt to escape justice, and his continuing threat to society.
“We talked about the three options being life with parole, life without parole, or death penalty,” District Attorney Greg Mashburn said. “So, we asked all of the jurors if they could consider all three of those punishments, and could they consider death as an option once they’ve heard everything.”
Jurors heard from Shepard’s former girlfriend Brandy Tillery and former wife Brittany Swayze, who both testified Shepard would beat and strangle them. Tillery said on one occasion, Shepard choked her until she passed out. She said he disappeared for a few days.
“He said he thought he killed me,” Tillery told jurors.
Members of the jury, consisting of eight women and four men, appeared visibly angry as the women spoke about the abuse, which allegedly often occurred with young children around.
Defense attorneys told the jury, “We respect your verdict,” asking for “sympathy” and “mercy” for Shepard during the punishment phase. They said they plan to call witnesses Wednesday, including Shepard’s mother to provide context to the murder’s troubled life.