2 Teens Charged with First-Degree Murder in Ballplayer's Killing in Okla.

Aug 20, 2013 3:07 PM

By Erin McClam, Staff Writer, NBC News

Two teenagers were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a college baseball player out for a jog in Oklahoma — a crime that one teen said they carried out simply because they were bored, according to police.

James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, were charged with murder. A third teenager, 17, was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact and with firing a weapon. The first two teens were charged as adults, the third as a juvenile.

The charges were unveiled at a hearing in Duncan, Okla. The ballplayer, Christopher Lane, was visiting the town, where his girlfriend lives, the police chief told The Associated Press. He passed a home where the teens were staying and was gunned down at random, the chief said.

“They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said: ‘There’s our target,’” the chief, Danny Ford, told the AP. “The boy who has talked to us said, ‘We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.’”

Lane, 22, is from Australia but was in Oklahoma playing baseball. He was a rising senior at East Central University in Ada, Okla., a catcher who started 14 games and hit .250 for the Tigers this season, according to the school’s athletics website.

Ford told the AP that prosecutors were expected to file first-degree murder charges Tuesday against the three teens, aged 15, 16 and 17. They were to appear in court, and it was not clear whether they would be charged as adults.

Witnesses told Australian television that Lane staggered and collapsed on the road after he was shot in the back with a .22-caliber revolver on Friday afternoon.

Lane’s father, Peter, said that the killing was “heartless, and to try to understand it is a short way to insanity.”

“The fact that something that shouldn’t have happened has happened — it’s the fact that somebody we all love so much is not going to come home,” he said from Australia in video aired by KFOR, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City.

The girlfriend, Sarah Harper, visited the street where Lane was gunned down. A memorial with flowers had sprung up.

“I don’t really care what happens to them,” she said of the accused in aninterview with 9 News of Australia. “I feel like if they don’t get what they deserve now and in the present, they will eternally. They’re just evil people.”

Jennifer Luna, who identified herself as the mother of one of the teens being held in the killing, said her son should be punished if he was involved.

In a tearful interview with reporters, she addressed the parents of the dead ballplayer: “I wouldn’t want to be in that position that they’re in right now. I’m always on my kids. I always tell them: If I lost y’all, I wouldn’t be able to live.”

The autopsy on Lane was pending, the AP reported. A call to the district attorney’s office in Duncan from NBC News on Tuesday was not answered.

The three teens are being held in individual cells at the Stephens County jail, Sheriff Wayne McKinney told NBC News.

He said that there has been an escalation in major crimes committed by people under 18 in recent years in Stephens County, a rural ranching and farming community about an hour and a half outside Oklahoma City.

Also in the jail are a teen accused of murdering his 16-year-old girlfriend and a man just over 18 accused of killing a store attendant, he said.

“That is alarming that we’re seeing those type of crimes,” he said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think it’s unique. It’s something we’re starting to see nationwide.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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