August 20, 2013

Police: Teens killed Australian baseball player for 'the fun of it'

Christopher Lane, 22, was visiting his girlfriend and her family in Oklahoma when he was shot in the back by three boys who said they were bored, police say.

The Associated Press

DUNCAN, Okla. — With a motive that's both chilling and simple — to break up the boredom of an Oklahoma summer — three teenagers randomly targeted an Australian collegiate baseball player who was attending school in the U.S. and killed him for fun, prosecutors said Tuesday as they charged two of the boys with murder.

click image to enlarge

An undated photo of player Chris Lane provided by the Essendon Baseball Club.

AP

click image to enlarge

This combination made with booking photos provided by the Stephens County, Okla., Sheriffs Department, shows, from left, James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, all of Duncan, Okla. The three teenagers have been charged in connection with the killing of 22-year-old Australian collegiate baseball player Christopher Lane, 22. Luna and Edwards were charged with first-degree murder and, under Oklahoma law, will be tried as adults. Jones was accused of using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to first-degree murder after the fact. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court. (AP Photo/Stephens County Sheriffs Department)

Prosecutor Jason Hicks called the boys "thugs" as he described how Christopher Lane, 22, of Melbourne, was shot once in the back and died along a tree-lined road on Duncan's well-to-do north side. He said the three teens, from the grittier part of town, chose Lane at random and that one of the boys "thinks it's all a joke."

Hicks charged Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, of Duncan, with first-degree murder. Under Oklahoma law they will be tried as adults. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, of Duncan, was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court.

Jones wept in the courtroom after he tried to speak about the incident but was cut off by the judge who said it wasn't the time to sort out the facts of the case. Jones faces anywhere from two years to life in prison if convicted on the counts he faces.

The two younger teens face life in prison without parole if convicted on the murder charge.

"I'm appalled," Hicks said after the hearing. "This is not supposed to happen in this community."

In court, Hicks said Luna was sitting in the back seat of a car when he pulled the trigger on a .22 caliber revolver and shot Lane once in the back. Hicks said Jones was driving the vehicle and Edwards was in the passenger seat.

A recording of an emergency 911 call obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press offers a chilling account of the next moments as a woman identifying herself as Joyce Smith tells the operator she saw Lane fall over into a ditch as she drove by.

"He's got blood on his back," the woman says.

Later relaying word from another witness on the scene to the 911 operator, the woman says: "He's turning blue. He's making a noise."

Edwards has had prior run-ins with the law and came to court Friday — apparently after the shooting — to sign documents related to his juvenile probation.

"I believe this man is a threat to the community and should not be let out," Hicks said as he requested he be held without bail. "He thinks it's all a joke."

The two younger boys were held without bail, while bail for Jones was set at $1 million.

Before the hearing, Edwards' father, James Edwards Sr., said he knew where his son was 95 percent of the time. He said his son was involved in wrestling and football, and was trying to forge the same sort of athletic career as Lane. He was heading into his sophomore year in high school.

Edwards Sr. said Luna was also like a son to him.

Luna's mother, Jennifer Luna, said her son likes to play basketball at a local court and play on his iPhone and Xbox.

"I know my son. He is a good kid," she said.

Lane played baseball at East Central University in Ada, 85 miles east of Duncan, and had been visiting his girlfriend and her parents in Duncan after he and his girlfriend returned to the U.S. from Australia about a week ago.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)