The Duncan Banner

Local News

August 26, 2013

Lawyer for teen discounts evidence in drive-by shooting

At least one other defense attorney set in case

DUNCAN — An attorney for the alleged triggerman in the fatal drive-by shooting in Duncan discounted evidence against his client Monday, saying it is based solely on unreliable testimony of another teen in the case.

Jim Berry, who was appointed to represent 16-year-old Chancey Luna, also said he will seek a change of venue in the case because of all the publicity in Duncan and elsewhere.

“The only alleged evidence they (prosecutors) have is the uncorroborated testimony of an alleged accomplice, and his credibility is very suspect,” said Berry, who handles many criminal defense cases in Stephens County through the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks declined comment on Berry’s statements.

Albert Hoch Jr., an attorney in Oklahoma City who handles some public defender cases, has been appointed to represent 15-year-old James Edwards Jr.

According to Hoch and Berry, Sue Taylor likely will represent Michael Dewayne Jones, 17. Taylor is an attorney in Comanche and a former assistant district attorney for the area.

Luna and Edwards are charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 16 drive-by shooting death of 22-year-old Christopher Lane of Australia. Prosecutors say Luna is the one who pulled the trigger, firing a .22-caliber bullet into Lane’s back as he jogged along Country Club Road, while Edwards was a front-seat passenger.

Prosecutors say Jones was driving and tried to cover up the crime. He is charged with use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to murder after the fact.

Not guilty pleas were automatically entered for the defendants last week, with bond denied for Luna and Edwards and set at $1 million for Jones. Police and prosecutors say Jones was the only one who  cooperated with them in their investigation, which is ongoing.

Hoch said he talked with Edwards briefly on Monday, but he declined further comment because a judge is considering whether to issue a so-called “gag order” in the case prohibiting prosecutors and defense attorneys from saying things publicly about the case.

Berry said he has communicated with Luna and his family, and nothing precludes them from hiring their own private attorney in the coming days and weeks. But for now he is Luna’s lawyer.

Berry said Luna is innocent unless and until the state can prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Just getting them on camera and calling them thugs is not evidence,” Berry said. “That’s as far as they (prosecutors) have got it and that is not evidence. It’s totally uncorroborated testimony of an alleged accomplice — that of Jones — and that’s not credible.”

Hicks has repeatedly referred to the three as thugs and said his focus and motivation in prosecuting the crime is to ensure justice is done for Lane, who he said was picked out randomly as a target.

Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford has said the three teens are gang member wannabes who likely were trying to elevate their status as such. He said Jones told officers they did the shooting because they were bored and just wanted to kill somebody.

But Berry said the probable cause affidavit filed in the case is silent about that claim.

“I don’t see anything in there that suggests anyone said such a thing,” he said.

Berry said the teens have been charged separately and likely will be tried separately “unless the state moves to consolidate them.”

Berry said he already plans to seek a change of venue for his client to have the case moved out of Stephens County to elsewhere in Oklahoma. Not only has publicity been extensive in Duncan, he said, but also in Lawton, El Reno and Oklahoma City.

“I don’t think he can get a fair trial anywhere in the state of Oklahoma, and because of the national publicity, it’s going to be hard to get any venue” that is fair, he said.

Berry said his client and the other two teens have been convicted “even before they’ve had their day in court.”

“I certainly express my condolences to the Lane family and this is a tragedy, but it seems like the media and the prosecutors and the police personnel have swept the presumption of evidence under the rug,” he said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Jurors to decide Bench competency issue today

    Jurors will hear final arguments on Thursday and then be asked to determine whether  23-year-old Miles Sterling Bench is mentally competent to stand trial for first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry nearly two years ago.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-17 Decathlon Team1 0127.jpg DHS Decathlon Teams prepares

    Not every high school student gets an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii. But that’s exactly what’s happening with the 10 team members of the Duncan High School Decathlon Team.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baseball tourney to be held in Wiles' memory

    The Duncan Middle School baseball team will hold a tournament in memory of the late Alyssa Wiles.

    April 17, 2014

  • Corporon memorial planned for Friday in Marlow

    A candlelight vigil for Dr. William Corporon and his grandson Reat Underwood will be held at Marlow High School at 8 p.m. Friday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Gay recuses himself from Morales trial

    Associate District Judge Dennis Gay on Wednesday disqualified himself from the trial of Dr. Oscar Morales Jr.

    April 17, 2014

  • Psychologists disagree on Bench’s mental competency

    Two psychologists on Tuesday offered differing opinions  about the mental competency of Miles Sterling Bench to stand trial for first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Braylee Henry.
    Bench, dressed in a dark blue suit, sat through a second day of court proceedings that will determine if the case against him goes to trial. The state is seeking the death penalty.

    April 16, 2014

  • Empire water removal proposal withdrawn

    A rural water district has canceled its application to withdraw up to 7.8 million gallons of additional water after Empire residents protested their private wells might run dry if that much groundwater was taken.
    A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board said Tuesday the application for groundwater rights was withdrawn by Fox Engineering Inc., an Ardmore firm that works as a consultant for Rural Water District No. 3.

    April 16, 2014

  • Man stabbed at water treatment plant

    A 50-year-old man who said was approached by three males was stabbed and cut several time at the Duncan Water Treatment Plant, police said Tuesday.
    The attack took place around 9 p.m. Monday on the south side of the treatment plant office where two men forced the victim against a wall and a third man attacked him, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Maundy Thursday services reflect on night before crucifixion

    Maundy Thursday, the night before the crucifixion that some Chrisitians refer to as “Holy Thursday,” will be recognized with special services in some Duncan churches.
    The day is celebrated in recognition of the Last Supper and a foot washing ceremony that took place before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

    April 16, 2014

  • jimmyseggstore.jpg Jimmy’s Egg set to open June 9

    A new Jimmy’s Egg restaurant will open in Duncan on June 9 and will begin interviewing job applicants later this month, the restaurant’s general manager said on Tuesday.
    The restaurant will seat about 150 and will employ 33 people, said Libby Shirra, the new general manager.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Who do you favor for the U.S. Senate seat that Tom Coburn is giving up?

State Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton
U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond
State Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City
Former State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso
     View Results
AP Video