With a motive that is 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 US and killed him for fun, prosecutors said as they charged two of the boys with murder.
Prosecutor Jason Hicks on Tuesday 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, with first-degree murder. Under Oklahoma law, they will be tried as adults. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, 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 was not 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,” he said.
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.
Edwards has had prior run-ins with the law and came to court on 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 Edwards 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 US$1 million.
Lane played baseball at East Central University in Ada, 135km east of Duncan, and had been visiting his girlfriend and her parents in Duncan after he and his girlfriend returned to the US from Australia about a week ago.
Duncan Police Chief Dan Ford has said the boys wanted to overcome a boring end to their summer vacation — classes in Duncan resumed on Tuesday — and that Jones told officers they were bored and killed Lane for “the fun of it.”