DUNCAN — 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.
“That's as harsh as I can get. The Supreme Court back several years ago handed down a case that said you can't seek death penalty in a case where you've got somebody under the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime,” he said. “Our hands are tied.”
He said he will seek a lengthy prison sentence for Jones.
The prosecutor said he has no evidence Lane was killed because he is white, despite Edwards' statement on Twitter that he hates white people.
“At this time we don't have any evidence ... to suggest that Lane was killed because of his nationality or because of his race. There's just not anything in there that they targeted him because of one of those two factors,” the prosecutor said.
He also said he did not charge Jones differently than the other two teenagers because Jones is white. He said the reason Jones faces lesser crimes will become crystal clear later. A police affidavit shows Jones was the most cooperative with police after his arrest.
“There's no racial component to that whatsoever,” he said.
The prosecutor also pointed out that while Lane is white and Edwards is black, Luna has a white mother and a black father.
Edwards' father, James Francis Edwards, told The Oklahoman on Thursday his son claims he wasn't in the car when the shooting happened.
The father said he spoke to his son Friday night and again this week over the phone from jail.
The father also complained that some of his son's Facebook comments have been misinterpreted by the media.
One of the last posts on Facebook was on Aug. 15, the day before the shooting. The younger Edwards wrote: “Bang 2 drops In 2 hours.”
The posting apparently refers to the scheduled release that day of the album, “Bang Part Two,” by rapper Chief Keef.
On Twitter, three days before the shooting, the younger Edwards, using a slang term, tweeted that he will be with friends “when it's time to start taken life's.”
He was quoting the Keef rap song, “I Don't Like.”
A relative of Luna described him as a good boy with a good heart but ended the conversation without identifying herself fully after someone told her to “hang up the dang phone.”
A private memorial service for Lane has been planned for Saturday at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond. The service is closed to the public.
The victim's girlfriend, Sarah Harper, attends Oklahoma Christian University.
In an interview Wednesday on CNN, Harper called the shooting surreal.
“We don't have anything like this ever happen here,” she said about Duncan in the CNN interview.
“We're a pretty boring town, really,” she said. “Everybody loves the Friday night football games and just doing the everyday life. And everybody always runs that street, walks that street. … It's amazing that something could happen like that, middle of the day, a popular area of town.
“You can't make sense of it.”