In November, a Pottawatomie County jury returned verdicts on four aggravating factors and chose the death penalty for Byron James Shepard, the man convicted in the 2017 killing of Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney.
Shepard, 38, of Okemah, is scheduled for formal sentencing at 9 a.m. Jan. 3, 2020.
Tecumseh Police Chief J.R. 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. Remember that he was a young man doing what he loved and fighting for his community the night that he died,” Kidney 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.
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.
Shepard's girlfriend, Brooklyn Danielle Williams, 25, who was driving the vehicle the night of the traffic stop, stood trial in February 2019. She was convicted of second-degree murder for her role in Terney's death. She is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence with the Department of Corrections.
Both trials were prosecuted by District 21 Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn and Prosecutors Pattye High and Travis White, who were appointed to the case when former Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon recused the office from the case.