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DA says tougher gun laws would not have saved murder victim

District Attorney Jason Hicks also said he will seek maximum punishment — life in prison without the possibility of parole — for the two teenagers charged with first-degree murder.
by Nolan Clay Modified: August 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm •  Published: August 23, 2013

The prosecutor in a “thrill killing” case here said Thursday more gun laws would not have saved the victim.

“Absolutely not, no way,” said Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks, who has charged two teens with first-degree murder and a third teen with accessory to murder.

“These kids are not supposed to have a .22 revolver in the first place,” he said.

The three are accused in the fatal shooting Aug. 16 of Australian Christopher Lane, 22, who was a baseball player at East Central University in Ada. He was shot in the back as he jogged in Duncan, where he was visiting his girlfriend.

The crime has renewed debate in the United States over gun control and sparked widespread outrage in Australia, where gun laws are tougher.

Charged with murder are James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, both of Duncan.

Charged with being an accessory and with use of a vehicle in discharge of a weapon is Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, of Duncan.

“We've got statutes right now that prohibit those three from having a firearm. They're not legally entitled to have a .22-caliber revolver in the first place. You can give me another five, ten, hundred, a thousand laws. It's not going to stop them,” the district attorney told The Oklahoman.

“They're criminals for a reason. It's because they ... don't follow the laws that are there.”

Police still were searching Thursday for the revolver used in the shooting. Police did find a disassembled shotgun in the trunk of the car under the spare tire.

Oklahoma law prohibits anyone under 18 from having a revolver.

A child in Oklahoma can have a rifle or shotgun in limited instances — “for participation in hunting animals or fowl, hunter safety classes, target shooting, skeet, trap or other recognized sporting event.”

Authorities also are trying to determine how the teenagers got the revolver. “I don't know if we will ever be able to answer that question,” Hicks said.

Prosecutors allege Luna fired the fatal shot, Jones drove and Edwards was a passenger in the vehicle. “They shot him in the back. All the evidence that we have suggests that they drove up right next to him, pulled the trigger and took off — very random,” Hicks said.

Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said Monday that Jones claimed they decided to kill somebody because they were bored. The district attorney — while still agreeing the shooting is a thrill killing — said there may be another motive involved besides boredom.

“There are a couple of other possibilities that we're exploring,” Hicks said.

Both murder defendants, Edwards and Luna, face either a life term in prison or a life term in prison without the possibility of parole if they are convicted.

Jones faces two years to life in prison if convicted of use of a vehicle in discharge of a weapon. He faces five years to 45 years in prison if convicted of being an accessory to murder.

The district attorney revealed to The Oklahoman on Thursday that he plans to seek the maximum — life sentences without the possibility of parole — for the two teenagers charged with murder.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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