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Last of four Oklahoma teen sentenced in shooting death of Australian baseball player

June 20, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Last of four Oklahoma teen sentenced in shooting death of Australian baseball player

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One of four teenagers from Oklahoma, who were found guilty in the deadly shooting of an Australian baseball player in 2013, was sentenced this week to 25 years behind bars.

James Francis Edwards, Jr., 18, was the last of the suspects to be convicted of the murder of 22-year-old Christopher Lane in a random drive-by shooting while the baseball star was out for a jog in Duncan, Oklahoma.

Edwards pleaded guilty back in September to being an accessory to the murder and will serve less than half of the 25-year sentence after ten years after being granted credit for the almost three years he already spent in prison during his trial.

Initially, Edwards was charged with first-degree murder but had the charge eventually reduced after he agreed to testify against his friends and accomplices: Odesse John David Varnes, Chancey Allen Luna, and Michael DeWayne Jones.

Lane, who was originally from Melbourne, Australia, was living in Oklahoma at the time of his August 2013 death in August of 2013 and attended East Central University on an athletic scholarship.

At the time of the shooting, Lane was visiting his girlfriend in Duncan about 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

According to initial police reports, the suspects were driving in a car when 18-year-old Luna shot Lane while he was jogging because they were bored and had only planned on scaring the college athlete.

The plan diverted once a fatal bullet hit Lane right in his back. Luna and his friends drove off and Lane was left to die in the middle of the street.

According to the Duncan Banner, Luna was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole along with Jones, who is also serving life, and Barnes was only sentenced to 12 years.

Al Hoch, Edwards’ attorney, tried to get a reduced sentence for his client who maintains that he shouldn’t have to pay for the crime that he did not himself commit.

“He just happened to get in a car with some people that he shouldn’t have. My suggestion is five years with a long suspension to make sure (he stays out of trouble,” said Hoch.

At the hearing, Edwards expressed his regret about his reckless actions and that the intent was never to kill Lane.

Edwards said, “The reason why I did it, I was put in a predicament I was never put on before … I was honestly scared. I’m sorry for everything that happened. I didn’t get in that car to kill (Lane.) I’m sorry, and I show remorse. Regardless of what they say, I was a dumb 15-year-old. I’m a grown man now.”

Edwards further confessed to making a call from jail asking one of his friend’s to hide the .22 revolver that fired the fatal shot. However, the Duncan Banner reported that the friend did not have access to the gun, and the weapon has not been found since.

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