The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 20, 2013

Mom of Okla. murder suspect doesn't believe he pulled the trigger


CNHI News Service

DUNCAN, Okla. — The mother of one of three teenagers arrested in a random shooting death that's shocked this small Oklahoma town said he needs to be punished if he was involved "but I do believe in my heart that he did not pull the trigger."

Jennifer Luna said she has not talked with her son since his arrest, along with two companions, Friday night in the murder of Christopher Lane, 22, who was shot in the back while out jogging. Lane, a native of Australia, played baseball for East Central University in Ada, Okla., and was visiting his girlfriend in Duncan.

Police Chief Danny Ford said Lane was shot from behind as the teens -- ages 15, 16 and 17 -- drove by him because they were bored and wanted to see someone die. They were scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday on a first-degree murder complaint.

Ford said the 17-year-old driver of the car admitted all three were at the scene of the shooting, and that the 16-year-old pulled the trigger of a handgun that fired the fatal bullet.

"They saw Christoper go by, and one of them said, 'There's our target,'" said Ford. "The boy who has talked to us said, 'We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.'"

The 16-year-old's mother said her son was kicked out of Duncan High School last year, but planned to return as a sophomore when classes resumed Tuesday.

"He said, 'Mom, I'm ready to go back, I'm ready to do something with my life,'" said Luna, who described herself as a hard-working single mother.

"I just don't understand these kids, I really don't," she added. "I don't know why they had to prove a point; I just don't understand. I tell my kids all the time, 'Make something out of your lives because this is hard.'"

Luna said her heart goes out to the victim's Austrailian family. "I feel for them, I really do," she said. "And I apologize."

The victim's mother, in an interview with an Austrailian TV station, said if the teenage suspects "don't get what they deserve now and in the present, they will eternally. They're just evil people."

Peter Lane, the victim's father, said the killing was "heartless, and to try to understand it is a short way to insanity. Somebody we all love so much is not going to come home."

Sarah Harper, the victim's girlfriend, said she was finishing her shift at the nearby Duncan Golf & Tennis Club pro shop when her boyfriend was cut down. She called it a senseless killing, and posted this message on her Facebook page: "So much tragedy in our small community. Lord, heal us all."

Harper, a student at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, said she met Christoper Lane in 2009 at a party at Redlands College in El Reno, Okla. She said he was attending East Central University on a baseball scholarship.

"Every minute with him was amazing," she said. "I cannot pick just one or even a few. Every moment was new and exciting."

The shooting occurred Friday at 3 p.m. as Lane was jogging along Country Club Road in the north part of Duncan, a southern Oklahoma town best known as the hometown of Hollywood producer and actor Ron Howard.

Authorities said no one witnessed the shooting but people nearby heard a gunshot and saw a black car speed from the scene. Surveillance cameras atop local businesses recorded the car parked behind a hotel in town shortly afterward. Three hours later, a tip led to the arrest of the teenagers in the parking lot of the Immanuel Baptist Church, standing beside a black Civic Honda.

Police said they were uncooperative initially, but a search of the car found evidence that led to their arrest. That evidence included a dismantled shotgun not used in the killing.

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Details for this story were provided by the Duncan, Okla., Banner.