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Kepler is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the fatal shooting occurred within the boundaries of the tribal reserve.
Before Cleary announced his decision on Wednesday, he thanked lawyers on both sides for their presentations to the Monday hearing, which did not include “unnecessary plays”.
“This is a very difficult case because of history and circumstances,” Cleary said.
The judge then went through a brief timeline of the case and found that Kepler was free from August 2014 to November 2017 while facing state charges. The judge also noted the defense’s allegations that Kepler has “extremely close” family ties, community support, and a record from the Corrections-No-Misconduct Division, and that he poses no aviation risk.
“Is Mr. Kepler likely to flee in the future?” Cleary asked before answering, “I don’t think so.”
US assistant attorney Ross Lenhardt said on Wednesday that he would recommend that the US attorney not appeal against Cleary’s decision.
“I can’t say that you will necessarily follow my recommendation, but that will be my recommendation,” Lenhardt told the judge.
On Monday, Cleary heard testimony from Kepler’s wife and daughter Lisa, who was with Lake at the time of his death.