Thursday, March 20, 2014
DUNCAN, Okla. (AP) — Two Oklahoma teenagers charged in the shooting death of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma pleaded not guilty and waived their right to a speedy trial during a brief court appearance on Thursday.
Michael Dewayne Jones, 18, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, wore orange jail jumpsuits and their hands were cuffed as they appeared before Judge Joe Enos for their arraignment on first-degree murder charges in the killing last summer of 22-year-old Chris Lane.
Enos set a trial docket date of Aug. 18 for both teens.
Prosecutors say Lane, from Melbourne, Australia, was gunned down as he jogged near his girlfriend's parents' house in Duncan, about 80 miles south of Oklahoma City. He was preparing to enter his senior season as a catcher at East Central University in Ada.
Another teenage defendant, James Francis Edwards Jr., 16, agreed to testify against Jones and Luna if prosecutors reduce charges against him.
Edwards testified at the preliminary hearing for Luna and Jones last month that he was rolling joints in the front passenger seat when Luna fired the fatal shot from the back while Jones drove. Luna and Jones both said they had believed the gun used in the killing held blanks, not a live round, Edwards testified.
Edwards was charged with accessory after the fact because prosecutors say he made a phone call from the Stephens County Jail between Aug. 16 and Dec. 31, 2013, and asked someone to dispose of the weapon. He is due back in court in May for a preliminary hearing for that charge.
Prosecutors have said they will drop the first-degree murder charge in exchange for him continuing to testify against the other two teenagers through trial. A lawyer for Jones has filed a motion seeking all agreements between the state and witnesses, specifically Edwards.
Family members for both teens were in attendance Thursday, as was the girlfriend of Lane. All left without comment following the hearing. A gag order prevents lawyers and others from discussing the case outside of court.
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