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Death sentenced handed down for Oklahoma officer’s killer

January 4, 2020 GMT

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma man was formally sentenced Friday to death for killing an Oklahoma police officer.

A Pottawatomie County judge handed down the sentence recommended by a jury in November for Byron James Shepard, 38, of Okemah.

An appeal of the sentence is automatic.

The jury had days earlier convicted Shepard of killing 22-year-old Tecumseh Officer Justin Terney during a traffic stop in 2017.

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Defense attorneys had argued the shooting was unintentional, but prosecutors said Shepard shot Terney in an effort to avoid going to jail.

Authorities said Shepard was a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation and ran away when Terney learned of an arrest warrant for Shepard. Authorities said the two eventually shot each other.

Terney died the following day while Shepard recovered.