DUNCAN — Two teenagers were charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in the “thrill killing” of an East Central University baseball player from Australia in a case that has sparked international outrage. A third teenager is facing related felonies.
“This is not Duncan, Oklahoma. This is not Stephens County, Oklahoma. This is not something that we see happen here,” District Attorney Jason Hicks said after the three teens' first court appearance in the case.
Directing comments to “our friends in Australia,” Hicks said, “And I'm going to do everything I can to ensure that that we see these three thugs pay for what they did to Christopher Lane.”
James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, were charged with first-degree murder. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, was charged with use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to first-degree murder after the fact.
Hicks said all three were in a car that pulled up behind Lane while he was jogging.
He said Luna fired a handgun from the backseat, while Jones drove and Edwards rode as a passenger.
Stephens County Special Judge Jerry Herberger denied bail for Luna and Edwards, and set the bail at $1 million for Jones. Luna and Edwards could face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jones could face up to life in prison. Prosecutors can't seek the death penalty because of their young age.
About 75 people packed the courtroom's seats, and another two dozen stood along the walls as the hearing got underway. Lane's family filled most of the front row. Parents and family members of the three teenagers also attended the hearing.
The judge warned against any outbursts.
“Don't try me on that,” he said. “I do know emotions are running high.”
The defendants were brought into the courtroom individually, amid tight security, their hands and legs shackled.
They showed no emotion throughout the proceedings.
Hicks said the “senseless tragedy” has horrified this southwest Oklahoma community of 23,000 residents and caused some to reflect on the inexplicable nature of the crime.
Hicks said there was no connection between the victim and the suspects and that one of the teenagers said they chose to shoot Lane at random simply because they were bored.
“I can't imagine anything more appalling,” Hicks said.