Oklahoma judge denies public access to juvenile records of thrill killing defendants

Judge rejected requests from The Oklahoman and Tulsa World for juvenile records of three teens charged in the drive-by shooting of a baseball player from Australia.
by Nolan Clay Published: August 30, 2013
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A judge is refusing to release juvenile records of the three defendants accused in the thrill killing of a baseball player from Australia.

The ruling means the public will not be able to see how police, prosecutors and judges handled previous accusations against the teens.

The three were arrested Aug. 16 in the drive-by shooting of Christopher Lane, 22. Authorities have said all three had run-ins with police before. One went to the courthouse 30 minutes after the shooting to deal with a juvenile case, authorities have said.

The Oklahoman and Tulsa World made written requests for the juvenile records. State law allows the normally confidential records to become public once a defendant is charged with a serious offense such as murder.

Stephens County Associate District Judge G. Brent Russell rejected the requests because another judge has issued a gag order in the thrill killing case.

“The court finds that the granting of such requests would serve no legitimate public or private interest and would defeat the purpose of the aforementioned order,” Russell wrote in an order received by The Oklahoman on Thursday.

The gag order prohibits prosecutors, law enforcements and defense attorneys from making comments to the press. It does not address the release of records. Special Judge Jerry Herberger issued the gag order in an effort to assure fair trials.

History of trouble?

Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, were charged with first-degree murder. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, was charged with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact and use of a vehicle in discharge of a weapon. All are from Duncan.

The Oklahoman reported this week that Luna was accused of assault in 2011, and Edwards was accused of assault and battery in 2012. Edwards also has been accused twice of threatening an act of violence — in 2011 and 2012.

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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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