MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

June 18, 2014

Teen faces accessory charge in Australian’s death

Two suspects still face possible death penalty

— DUNCAN — A judge on Tuesday dismissed a first-degree murder charge against one of three suspects in the shooting death of Australian ballplayer Chris Lane.

Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks requested the dismissal at a preliminary hearing for James Edwards Jr. in which the state was required to prove there is probable cause to justify the murder charge against the 16-year-old.

“Our case is not strong enough to take him to trial,” Hicks told Judge Jerry Herberger.

A charge alleging Edwards acted as an accessory after the slaying of Lane remains intact, but because of the suspect’s age it will be handled in juvenile court, where proceedings are not open to the public.

Hicks said he plans to ask that Edwards to be certified as adult to stand trial on the accessory charge, which alleges he helped hide the .22 caliber pistol used to kill Lane as he  jogged along a Duncan road on the afternoon of Aug. 16.

Charges of first-degree murder remain pending against two other suspects in the shooting death of Lane.

Edwards provided testimony against those suspects at their preliminary hearing in February which was used to find that probable cause existed to take the murder charges  against them to trial.

The murder trials of Chancey Allen Luna and Michael Dewayne Jones are set on the August trial docket but are not expected to be tried until sometime next year.

Luna and Jones are held in the Stephens County Jail while Edwards has been held at the Comanche County Jail in Lawton. All three had been denied bond.

Steve Olafson writes for the Duncan Banner.

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