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March 13, 2014

Jones, Luna bound over for trial

DUNCAN — Two Duncan teenagers were bound over for trial Wednesday on  charges of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Australian college baseball player Christopher Lane.

Arraignment for Michael Dewayne Jones, 18, and Chancey Allen Luna, 17, has been set for 9 a.m. March 20 in Stephens County District Court before Judge Joe Enos.

Special District Judge Jerry Herberger said there was enough evidence against the two defendants, both dressed in orange county jail jumpsuits, to show probable cause to take them to trial for first-degree murder in the shooting death of  Lane on Aug. 16.

The 22-year-old Australian was in town visiting his girlfriend Sarah Harper when he was killed. He had come to Oklahoma on a baseball scholarship to East Central University in Ada.

A third suspect,16-year-old James Francis Edwards Jr., testified against Jones and Luna  on Feb. 4, the first day of the preliminary hearing.

Under a plea-bargain agreement with the state, Edwards will face a reduced charge of  accessory after the fact of murder in the first-degree, if he cooperates with prosecutors in the cases against Luna and Jones.  As a further concession, Edwards would face the reduced charge as a youthful offender rather than as an adult defendant, under the plea bargain.

District Attorney Jason Hicks  argued that Luna and Jones are responsible for Lane’s death and should be taken to trial.

“I think there’s enough evidence to show these two committed murder in the first degree,” Hicks told the judge. “It’s obvious there’s been a death and these two are responsible.”

Jim Berry, attorney for Luna, argued there was no premeditation in Lane’s shooting and that his clients  shouldn’t be bound  over for trial.

In testimony last month, Edwards testified Luna shot Lane from a car the three defendants were traveling in while the Australian was jogging.

Berry said Edwards lacked credibility.

The defense attorney said Luna and Jones might have been involved in the shooting but he didn’t believe any premeditation existed.

“It sounds like an accident,” Berry said.

Hicks said several portions of Edwards’ testimony pointed to premeditation on behalf of Luna and Jones. He said there was a possibility Luna and Jones saw Lane jogging before picking up Edwards, minutes before Lane was shot.

Hicks said there was premeditation when Jones swerved the car he was driving and Luna stuck a gun out of the car’s passenger window. He said there might have been a discussion between Luna and Jones about thinking the gun contained blanks, but discounted this through Edwards’ testimony of .22-caliber ammunition being in the car’s glove box.

On Wednesday, two people were called to testify for the prosecution.

Edwards Kjan Martin, who said he’s known Luna and Jones about two years, invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege to not answer a number of questions.

Martin did reveal that police asked if he knew where they could find the .22-caliber revolver that was used to shoot Lane. Martin testified he didn’t know.

The second witness,  Heather George, a dispatcher for the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office,  testified she heard  a conversation between Jones and another prisoner, Michael Ray,  on Aug. 23 that took place in the holding cells of the Stephens County Jail.

The holding cells are near the dispatching center for the sheriff’s office.

George said Ray asked Jones why the Australian was picked out as a target and Jones responded,  “We tried to shoot several others but kept missing.”

 Ray was sentenced to life in prison without parole last week for murdering his ex-girlfriend last year.

Jones, Luna and Edwards remain in Stephens County Jail.

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