In a case that went strangely unnoticed by the media up to the closing arguments, a man whose defense was the “stand your ground” law, and whose attorney said he was defending his property and protecting his 18-month-old daughter has been in jail since April of 2018 on second-degree murder charges.
Jeffrey Keeton, of Drumright, was working on his roof one day last April when a man from across the street came over and began to argue. What the argument was about, we’ve not been told. All we know is that Keeton sent the man away and went back up to his roof to finish his work.
When he came down at the end of the day, he walked into his house to find that Jonathan Fowler, the man from across the street, was sitting on his couch. Keeton’s daughter was in another room, and Carla Stinnett, Keeton’s attorney, says that Fowler was inebriated and began to cause a scene.
According to Stinnett, Keeton was concerned for his daughter and grabbed the nearest thing he could—a hammer from his tool belt—and struck Fowler on the head. Fowler left, showing no signs of injury. He died six days later.
Keeton, charged with second-degree murder, has been in solitary confinement since he was arrested last April. Creek County Sheriffs say that’s protocol for those in jail on murder charges. Despite that, Stinnett says that CCSO has no complaints against the man. “He’s been a model citizen, despite his situation,” says Stinnett.
As allowed by the recently-elected Judge Hake, lesser included offenses first and second-degree manslaughter were offered to the jury as options.
According to jury members who agreed to speak to Sapulpa Times on the condition of anonymity, it was these lesser included offenses that likely caused a hung jury, and thereby a mistrial.
The jury was 10-2 not guilty.
“Most of us agreed that he was legally within his rights, but there were a couple whose moral compass wouldn’t allow for someone to just walk away when they had killed someone else, especially with a hammer,” one juror said.
Judge Hake, presiding over his first criminal trial, extended an Allen charge as deliberations reached nearly five hours, requesting the jurors in the minority to reconsider. It wasn’t enough to hold. The jury never reached a unanimous agreement and Hake declared a mistrial based on a hung jury.
Prosecuting attorney Mike Loeffler has said that he’ll make a decision on whether or not to retry by March 27th. Should the case be retried, the next jury session wouldn’t be until later this summer.