DUNCAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma teenager whose attorney said he only meant to scare an Australian college baseball player by firing a shot at him was convicted Friday of first-degree murder.
The Stephens County jury found Chancey Allen Luna guilty in the Aug. 16, 2013, death of Christopher Lane, 22, who was shot in the back while jogging along a city street in Duncan. The jury recommended that Luna receive life in prison without parole when he is sentenced in June.
Defense attorney Jim Berry had acknowledged that Luna fired the fatal shot from a passing car that he was riding in, but during closing arguments he repeatedly noted that Luna was 16 at the time and said 16-year-olds take stupid, senseless, thoughtless actions, The Oklahoman reported.
"They work on impulse, hormones, whatever," Berry said. "They do not make a rational decision as you would in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s."
Defense attorneys had asked the judge let the jury consider second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter, but District Judge Ken Graham refused.
Prosecutors argued that the evidence was clear that the driver, Michael DeWayne Jones, and Luna had planned to kill someone.
"He aimed it right at his back. ... It was a good shot," District Attorney Jason Hicks said.
Lane, from Melbourne, Australia, was in Oklahoma on a college baseball scholarship. He was a catcher and preparing for his senior year at East Central University in Ada and was visiting his girlfriend and her family in Duncan when he was shot.
Lane's sisters, mother and father read victim impact statements to the judge on Friday.
"I no longer have ... a zest for life because one of my kids is missing," his mother, Donna Lane, said in court.
Luna did not testify and the defense called just one witness, his mother, Jennifer Luna. In her brief testimony, she said her son lived with her parents after he was born and that his father is in jail.
"I wasn't there half the time," Jennifer Luna said.
A co-defendant in the case, James "Bug" Edwards Jr., now 17, testified that he was a passenger in the car when it swerved toward Lane, and Luna fired the shot. Edwards testified as part of a plea agreement in which a first-degree murder charge against him was reduced to being an accessory after the fact.
Jones, now 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea bargain, but refused to testify for the prosecution. He is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
The doctor who performed the autopsy on Lane testified that even immediate medical attention would not have saved his life.
"Apart from a miracle, no," said Dr. Inas Yacoub, a forensic pathologist with the state medical examiner's office.
Yacoub testified that a .22-caliber bullet was recovered from Lane's body.
"Despite being small, it damaged vital structures and caused significant bleeding," Yacoub told jurors, striking two major blood vessels, puncturing both lungs and breaking two ribs.
Donna Lane wiped tears from her face when prosecutors showed jurors a photo of the bloody T-shirt her son was wearing. She and family members also wept during testimony by witnesses who tried to comfort Lane as he lay dying.