Friends thought gun held blanks, teen tells court
DUNCAN, Okla. — One of three boys accused in the fatal shooting of an Australian baseball player last summer said in court on Tuesday that his friends believed the gun used in the crime contained only blanks.
James Francis Edwards Jr. agreed to testify against his co-defendants in a preliminary hearing. In exchange for his testimony through the trial, prosecutors said they will drop a murder charge and he would only be tried on an accessory charge.
He told an Oklahoma judge that Chancey Luna, 16, shot and killed Christopher Lane, an Australian attending East Central University on a baseball scholarship who was two weeks away from celebrating his 23rd birthday. When the shooting took place, Edwards said, Luna was in a car driven by Michael Dewayne Jones, 18.
The judge won't decide until March whether Luna and Jones will stand trial because a witness asked to be represented by an attorney. Edwards' preliminary hearing was delayed until May.
Edwards, 16, said he was rolling marijuana joints in the front passenger seat when Luna shot at Lane from the back seat.
The teens drove to a restaurant, where Luna and Jones exchanged words. According to Edwards, Luna said to Jones that he thought the gun had only blanks inside. Jones then responded: “Me too. I'm sorry,” Edwards said.
Jones and Luna then dropped off Edwards at court for Edwards to sign probation papers related to a juvenile charge, said Edwards, who testified wearing an orange jail jumpsuit.
Some time passed, then Luna and Jones picked up Edwards at an apartment complex where Edward's father works. The two boys took Edwards to a church parking lot where he was planning to fight another person in an unrelated matter, but all three boys were arrested, Edwards said.
Prosecutors added an accessory charge against Edwards. According to court documents, Edwards made a phone call from the Stephens County Jail between Aug. 16 and Dec. 31, and requested someone to dispose of the weapon. Edwards testified that he later learned the gun was disposed of but he does not know where it is.