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In Duncan

Charge Dropped Against Teen

DUNCAN—Earlier this week, prosecutors dropped a first-degree murder charge against the teenager who has agreed to testify against his two friends at their trials over the fatal shooting of an Australian baseball player.

James Francis Edwards Jr., 16, of Duncan, is charged now instead as a juvenile with accessory to murder after the fact.

Prosecutors reached a deal with the teenager in February after deciding his role in the shooting was minimal.

They agreed to eventually dismiss the murder charge in exchange for his cooperation.

His friends, Michael Dewayne Jones, 18, and chancy Allen Luna, 17, remain charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 16 drive-by shooting.

Both are from Duncan.

They have pleaded not guilty.

The two will be tried separately.

The victim, Christopher Lane, 22, was shot in the back while jogging. He was a senior on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada. He was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend.

The case has attracted widespread international attention and is being closely followed in Australia.

The teenager testified in February at a preliminary hearing that Mr. Luna fired the gun from a car driven by Mr. Jones.

He said he had just been picked up for a ride to the courthouse and did not know his friends were going to shoot anyone.

In asking for the dismissal, Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks told the judge: “There is no evidence regarding any conspiracy or other involvement of Edwards in the murder.”

“The evidence gathered since the time of the murder tends to further implicate Chancey Luna and Michael Jones and further casts doubt on the role of Edwards in the murder,” the district attorney explained in his motion to dismiss the charges against the teenager.

He told the judge the teen will be prosecuted as an accessory “for his role in concealing the gun used to murder Christopher Lane.”

The prosecutor described that charge as more accurately reflecting the teenager’s role.

The teen is charged now as a juvenile, which would limit how long he would be in custody if he is found to be “delinquent” of the accessory, though, is seeking to have thje teenager convicted as if he was an adult.

The teen would face five to 45 years in prison if a judge agrees to give him adult status.