James Edwards Jr., Chancey Allen Luna and Michael Dewayne Jones
were charged as adults with first-degree murder in the shooting of
Christopher Lane, a Melbourne resident who was attending university
in Oklahoma on a baseball scholarship.
The teenagers are accused of tracking Lane, who police said was shot
in the back on August 16 while jogging in Duncan, Oklahoma, a town
about 80 miles south of Oklahoma City. Lane, 23, was a student at
East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. No date has yet been set
for the trial.
Edwards testified on Tuesday in a court hearing to determine whether
Luna and Jones should stand trial in the case, and prosecutors said
Edwards would face a lesser charge if he continued to testify
Edwards testified that Luna had fired the shot that struck Lane. He
said he was in the front passenger seat that day and rolling a
marijuana cigarette while Jones was driving the car and Luna was in
He saw a jogger on the side of the road ahead, looked down to roll
the joint and felt the car swerve, Edwards said.
"I heard a gunshot," he said. "I heard it from the right side of the
Edwards said he looked in the mirror and saw Lane lying on his
stomach, and that Luna, with a "shocked and cold expression," said
he thought there were supposed to be blanks in the gun.
Afterward, Luna's attorney, Jim Berry, said Edwards' testimony that
the car swerved showed that the gun could have gone off accidentally
and noted that Edwards also testified that Jones and Luna thought
they were shooting blanks.
"I think that shows an absence of malice and that there was no
planning or premeditation," Berry told reporters.
[to top of second column]
Stephens County Judge Jerry Herberger said the hearing would
continue on March 12.
A preliminary hearing to determine if Edwards should face trial on
the first-degree murder charge and a new accessory to murder charge
was scheduled for May 13.
According to police, Jones had said the teens had decided to kill
someone "for the fun of it." Police have said Jones told them they
saw Lane jogging, decided to target him and then followed him in
their vehicle before shooting him.
If convicted of first-degree murder, the teens face a possible
sentence of life in prison without parole. Oklahoma law allows a
death sentence for first-degree murder, but people convicted of
capital crimes committed before age 18 cannot be sentenced to death
in the United States.
The three defendants were under age 18 when the shooting occurred.
(Writing by David Bailey; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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