The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

March 12, 2014

Teens ordered to trial in Australian player death

DUNCAN, Okla. — An Oklahoma judge ruled Wednesday two teenagers charged with first-degree murder must face a trial in the shooting death of an Australian baseball player.

Prosecutors say a third suspect will testify against them.

Police and prosecutors say the boys targeted Christopher Lane, 22, last August as a way to overcome a boring summer afternoon. Chancey Luna, 16, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 18, were ordered to stand trial, while prosecutors said James Francis Edwards Jr., 16, will testify against them and be charged with a lesser crime.

The preliminary hearing for Luna and Jones had been delayed last month after a witness asked to be represented by an attorney.

Edwards testified at the earlier hearing that he was rolling marijuana cigarettes in the front passenger seat when Luna fired the fatal shot from the back while Jones drove. Edwards testified that Luna and Jones both said they had believed the gun used in the killing held blanks, not a live round.

Prosecutors last month charged Edwards as an accessory after the fact. According to court documents, Edwards made a phone call from the Stephens County Jail between Aug. 16 and Dec. 31, 2013, and asked someone to dispose of the weapon. Edwards testified last month that he later learned the gun was disposed of but said he does not know where the weapon is. He is due back in court in May for a preliminary hearing for that charge.

Prosecutors have said they will drop the first-degree murder charge in exchange for him continuing to testify against the other two teenagers through trial.

In other testimony Wednesday, another teenager took the stand but repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to keep silent when asked about his conversations with the suspects. Also, a Stephens County Sheriff's Office dispatcher who said she overheard Jones while he was in custody say that they tried to "kill others and kept missing." Heather George corrected her testimony when a lawyer for Jones pointed out that a typed statement she made immediately after the alleged incident read "shoot others but we kept missing."

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