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Shepard receives death penalty

Earlier coverage:

Jury chooses death for convicted killer of Tecumseh police officer Jury convicts man of murder in officer's death Mother says her son doesn't deserve to die for killing officer Defense witnesses: Convicted cop killer abused as a child Prosecutors: Man accused of killing officer didn't want to go to jail

SHAWNEE — A judge on Friday agreed with jurors' death penalty recommendation for a man convicted last month in the 2017 murder of Tecumseh Police officer Justin Terney.

District Judge John G. Canavan formally sentenced Byron James Shepard, 38, of Okemah, to death during a hearing at the Pottawatomie County courthouse. Shepard was convicted in November of first-degree murder, concealing stolen property and drug possession. Appeals in death penalty cases are routine.

After the sentencing, Tecumseh Police Chief J.R. Kidney said he was pleased with the outcome.

“That was pretty straightforward," he said. “I'm pleased it's done and over, but like the defense said, though, there's still a long road ahead.”

Kidney said Terney's family has expressed to him they feel justice has been served.

“I think that's pretty much how we all feel,” he said.

Officer Terney, 22, died March 27, 2017, from gunshot wounds he suffered the night before in a shootout with Shepard, who was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Terney that night.

Kidney said Terney, who wanted to be a police officer since he was 3 years old, became an officer at age 21 and started living his dream.

“Less than one year into it his dream was taken away, so don't let the memory of Justin Terney die,” Kidney said after the trial. “Remember that he was a young man doing what he loved and fighting for his community the night that he died.”

During the course of the trial, prosecutors argued Shepard, who was a fugitive with a warrant, shot Terney that night to avoid going to jail. Prosecutors pointed out Shepard's criminal history, as well as past violence and drug use.

Shepard's public defenders argued that the shooting and officer's death was unintentional, and asked the jury to spare his life and allow him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Shepard's girlfriend, Brooklyn Danielle Williams, who was driving the vehicle the night of the traffic stop, was convicted earlier of second-degree murder in Terney's death. She is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Related Photos
<strong>Several Tecumseh police officers leave the Pottawatomie County Courthouse Friday after a man convicted of murdering a Tecumseh police officer was sentenced to death. [VICKY O. MISA/SHAWNEE NEWS-STAR]</strong>

Several Tecumseh police officers leave the Pottawatomie County Courthouse Friday after a man convicted of murdering a Tecumseh police officer was sentenced to death. [VICKY O. MISA/SHAWNEE NEWS-STAR]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-93c92409a343c97c8f0680e6590cd531.jpg" alt="Photo - Several Tecumseh police officers leave the Pottawatomie County Courthouse Friday after a man convicted of murdering a Tecumseh police officer was sentenced to death. [VICKY O. MISA/SHAWNEE NEWS-STAR] " title=" Several Tecumseh police officers leave the Pottawatomie County Courthouse Friday after a man convicted of murdering a Tecumseh police officer was sentenced to death. [VICKY O. MISA/SHAWNEE NEWS-STAR] "><figcaption> Several Tecumseh police officers leave the Pottawatomie County Courthouse Friday after a man convicted of murdering a Tecumseh police officer was sentenced to death. [VICKY O. MISA/SHAWNEE NEWS-STAR] </figcaption></figure>
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