Oklahoma teen charged with murder in killing of Australian student

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 06, 2013 4:28 PM
Oklahoma teen charged with murder in killing of Australian student

By Heide Brandes

DUNCAN, Oklahoma (Reuters) - One of three teens accused of killing an Australian student from an Oklahoma university was charged Wednesday with murder and may have been involved in a shooting earlier that day and another the night before, prosecutors said.

Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, was charged with first-degree murder as an adult and denied bond during a preliminary hearing at a Duncan, Oklahoma, courthouse. Two other suspects have been charged with murder and face hearings later in November.

The teens are accused of killing Christopher Lane, 23, of Melbourne, who was shot in the back in August while jogging on a residential street in Duncan. Lane was attending East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, on a baseball scholarship.

Jones had been previously charged as a youthful offender with use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to murder after the fact in Lane's death. Prosecutors had said previously that Jones drove a car following Lane.

Stevens County District Attorney Jason Hicks did not elaborate during the court hearing about the possible additional shootings, but said they justified that Jones be denied bond. A gag order has been placed on the case.

"We believe total denial of bond is appropriate in this case," Hicks said at the hearing, arguing that Jones may pose a threat to the community. "This defendant may have been involved in another shooting earlier in the day and the night before."

Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, have been charged as adults with first degree murder and have court dates later in November as does Jones.

According to police, Jones had said the teens had decided to kill someone "for the fun of it" in Duncan, a small town about 80 miles south of Oklahoma City. Police have said Jones told them they saw Lane jogging, decided to target him and then followed him in their vehicle before shooting him.

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The teens 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.

Jones' previous attorney is no longer representing him, and he appeared in court Wednesday with no attorney. His parents as well as Luna's mother attended Wednesday's hearing, but declined to comment.

(Reporting by Heide Brandes; Writing by Karen Brooks; editing by Andrew Hay)