Slain Australian baseball player's family weeps during trial

AP News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2015 7:17 PM

DUNCAN, Okla. (AP) — The family of an Australian college baseball player who was shot to death in Oklahoma cried Wednesday as a witness testified that he tried to comfort the 22-year-old.

Richard Rhoades testified in Stephens County District Court in Duncan in the first-degree murder trial of 17-year-old Chancey Luna, who is charged in the 2013 shooting death of Christopher Lane. Rhoades said he rushed to help Lane after hearing a gunshot and used his shirt to wipe blood from Lane's mouth, The Oklahoman reported (http://bit.ly/1FUtBze ).

"Hold in there. Stay with me, buddy. Stay with me. Help's on the way," Rhoades said he told the fatally wounded Lane.

Joy Smith, the first to see Lane after he was shot, described how he stumbled across the road. She said Lane reached the grass on the other side, and stood there for a minute before falling.

She said she called 911. On the recording played for the jury, Smith pleads with a dispatcher to hurry.

"Oh, my gosh," Smith said at one point. "How long is it going to be?" Seconds later, she said, "If you don't hurry, he's gone."

Luna's attorney, Jim Berry, told jurors Tuesday that Luna fired the gun only to scare Lane, a native of Melbourne, Australia, who was in Oklahoma on a college baseball scholarship. Lane was about to start his senior year at East Central University in Ada and was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Luna faces life in prison either with or without the possibility of parole.

Defense attorneys plan to ask the judge to let the jury consider a verdict of second-degree murder instead, which carries a punishment of 10 years to life in prison.