DUNCAN — After gunning down a jogger from a car, the shooter complained, “I thought there was supposed to be blanks in the gun,” a witness testified Tuesday.
“Me, too. Sorry,” the driver responded, according to the testimony.
The surprise testimony came from James Francis Edwards Jr., 16, the youngest of three murder defendants charged in the Aug. 16 drive-by shooting of an Australian baseball player.
Edwards testified at a preliminary hearing against his two friends, Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 18. All three are from Duncan.
He identified Luna as the shooter and Jones as the driver. He said Jones swerved toward the jogger before the shot was fired.
Edwards testified after making a deal with prosecutors to be a witness in exchange for the eventual dismissal of his murder charge.
Under his deal, Edwards will face punishment for being an accessory after the fact. He is accused in the accessory charge of calling a friend from jail to make sure the gun was hidden.
In another surprise, Edwards also revealed that he and Luna have talked in jail about the shooting.
“He just said that he didn't mean to shoot him. That's, you know, pretty much it,” Edwards said.
Stephens County Special Judge Jerry Herberger will conclude the preliminary hearing for Luna and Jones on March 12.
The judge must decide whether the evidence is sufficient against Luna and Jones for a murder trial.
The judge put off ruling until March because one prosecution witness, a teenager, refused to testify until he talked to an attorney. The judge agreed to appoint the witness an attorney.
Edwards will be back in court May 13. His defense attorney, Al Hoch, wants him to be prosecuted on the accessory charge as a juvenile or a youthful offender rather than as an adult.
After the testimony Tuesday, Luna's court-appointed attorney, Jim Berry, told news reporters, “Our young man is innocent of premeditated murder.”
“These young fellows thought there were blanks in the gun,” he told reporters.
The defense attorney suggested that evidence could result in a manslaughter verdict or second-degree murder verdict at trial for Luna rather than a first-degree murder conviction. “We'd ask everybody to keep an open mind,” Berry said.
A visitor in Duncan
The victim, Christopher Lane, 22, was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend. Both had just returned from Australia. Lane, a senior on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada, was shot in the back while jogging along Country Club Road.
The girlfriend, Sarah Harper, was in court Tuesday. She wiped her eyes with a tissue as a painter described trying to save Lane.