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Oct 7, 8:59 AM EDT

Issue of race is again a focus in ex-cop's 4th murder trial

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Three hung juries in the case of a white former Oklahoma police officer charged with fatally shooting his daughter's black boyfriend had one thing in common besides unwillingness to convict. Each had only one African-American juror.

Race has been an undercurrent in former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler's first-degree murder case. He's headed for a fourth trial Monday.

Kepler, a 24-year veteran of the force, was off duty in August 2014 when he fatally shot 19-year-old Jeremey Lake. Lake had just started dating Kepler's daughter.

Criminal law experts and U.S. Supreme Court cases point to the importance of racial identity and policing when it comes to jury selection.

Experts say just seating one extra person of color on a jury could affect how it decides a case.

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