Oklahoma teen has charges changed in killing of Australian

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 06, 2015 2:18 PM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A 17-year-old Oklahoma man originally charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of an Australian athlete has been charged as an accessory to first-degree murder, court records released on Friday said.

James Edwards Jr. had his first-degree murder charge dismissed in exchange for his cooperation with the prosecution of two teenagers charged with fatally shooting Melbourne resident Christopher Lane as he was jogging in south Oklahoma, court records showed.

On Thursday, Edwards was given the accessory to first-degree murder charge, the records said.

Prosecutors say Lane was a random victim of a "thrill kill" shooting in August 2013. He was attending East Central University in Ada on a baseball scholarship.

In a preliminary hearing, Edwards implicated Michael Jones, 19 and Chancey Luna, 17, for the killing.

Jones and Luna, who were 17 and 16 at the time of Lane's death, face trial as adults for first-degree murder in April. They face possible sentences of life in prison without parole if convicted. People who commit capital crimes before age 18 cannot be sentenced to death in the United States.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)