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First-degree murder trial ordered in fatal shooting of Australian baseball player

Preliminary hearing ends with some surprise testimony in Duncan, Oklahoma.
by Nolan Clay Modified: March 12, 2014 at 9:54 pm •  Published: March 12, 2014

Two of the suspects in the fatal shooting of an Australian baseball player have been ordered to face trial.

A judge Wednesday ordered the first-degree murder trial, agreeing prosecutor had sufficient evidence against Michael Dewayne Jones, 18, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16.

A third suspect, James Francis Edwards Jr., 16, testified against his friends in February in exchange for the eventual dismissal of his murder case. Edwards will be prosecuted instead as an accessory.

All three are from Duncan.

Stephens County Special Judge Jerry Herberger rejected defense arguments there was no evidence the Aug. 16 shooting was premeditated.

In surprise testimony Wednesday, the final witness at the preliminary hearing testified Jones claimed in August they had tried to shoot others.

The witness, sheriff’s dispatcher Heather George, 30, said she overheard Jones talking Aug. 23 from a holding cell to another inmate.

She said Jones was asked why they had targeted an Australian.

He replied, “We tried to shoot several others, but we kept missing,” according to her testimony.

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.

Prosecutors allege Luna fired the shot and Jones swerved toward the victim. Police have not found the weapon — believed to be a .22-caliber revolver.

In testimony Feb. 4, Edwards described the shooting, saying it took him by surprise. He said Jones and Luna both later claimed they thought the gun had blanks.

He testified in February that Jones and Luna had picked him up to take him to the courthouse so he could sign up for probation on a juvenile theft offense. He said he had agreed to share some marijuana with them for the ride.

Edwards said he was rolling a marijuana cigarette on his laptop on the car’s front seat when Jones swerved toward a jogger and Luna fired. Edwards said he saw in the mirror that the jogger was holding his right side.

District Attorney Jason Hicks argued Wednesday there was more than enough evidence the shooting was intentional. He pointed to the testimony that Jones swerved and Luna had stuck the pistol out the window.

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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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