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Murder Trial Underway in Duncan Jogger Shooting

17-Apr-2015

When a jogger was shot and killed at random in Duncan, Oklahoma, it set off international headlines. The victim, 22-year-old Christopher Lane, a baseball player at East Central University in Ada, was an Australian national. His death was dubbed a "thrill-killing," by three teens, one of whom told authorities that they shot the jogger because they were "bored."

Now, more than a year and a half later, the trial is underway for Chancey Luna, the teen accused of pulling the trigger when he was only 16 years old.

Luna is charged with first degree murder in Lane's shooting, and his defense team has admitted to the jury that their client shot and killed the jogger. They deny, however, that the killing was intentional and premeditated, saying that the teen only meant to "scare" Lane, not kill him. They are prepared to ask the judge to allow the jury to consider a lesser charge of second degree murder:

"We are not going to try to establish to you that Mr. Luna did not shoot Mr. Lane. He shot him. . . . There was no motive, no plan to kill anyone. This is a reckless action by a 16-year-old child.”

While prosecutors attempt to prove that Luna intentionally shot and killed Christopher Lane, the defense describes the killing as unintentional. They cite the testimony of witness James Francis Edwards, Jr., who was present at the time of the shooting. Edwards, then 15, says that Luna and another teen, Michael Dewayne Jones, did not discuss killing anyone before the car swerved and Edwards heard the gunshot. After the shooting, the three went to hide the gun, says Edwards, and he says that Luna and Jones discussed how they both thought the gun was loaded with blanks.

Edwards's testimony conflicts with Jones's statements to police shortly after the arrest. Jones is the one who allegedly told police,"We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody."

Edwards was initially charged with first degree murder, but is instead charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact. He has agreed to testify. Jones, the driver of the vehicle, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. As part of his plea deal, he will not testify for the prosecution.

If convicted of first degree murder, the 17-year-old Chancey Luna faces a sentence of life in prison or life without parole. If his attorneys are successful in allowing the jury to consider second degree murder, the penalty for conviction of the lesser offense is 10 years to life in prison.

In addition to Luna, Jones, and Edwards, a fourth person was charged in connection with the killing. Oddesse Barnes, 22, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in concealing the murder weapon.



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