Suspect In Australian's Murder In Duncan Testifies Against Alleged Co-Conspirators

Tuesday, February 4th 2014, 8:32 am
By: News 9

A surprising twist in the pursuit of justice for slain Australian native Christopher Lane.

One of three Duncan teenagers charged with his murder testifies against his alleged co-conspirators.

Chancey Luna, Michael Jones, and James Edwards Junior are all charged in the murder of Australian native, Christopher Lane. Lane was shot to death in August 2013 as he jogged down a rural road in Duncan.

During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, James Edwards Jr. denied having any knowledge of a plan to shoot and kill Christopher Lane - and that he was shocked hearing the gunshot.

Edwards testified against codefendants Chancey Luna and Michael Jones in exchange for the possibility prosecutors would drop the murder charge against him -- and try him as an accessory to murder instead.

Edwards told the court - he has "no doubt" Chancey Luna shot Christopher Lane. He testified that after the shooting Luna handed the firearm to Jones and later said quote "I thought there were blanks in the gun."

Jones allegedly said "me too, I'm sorry."

When challenged by defense attorneys - Edwards admitted he has changed his story since making an agreement with the state.

Before the scheduled preliminary hearing Tuesday Stephens County prosecutors amended the charges against Edwards. Edwards was initially charged with first degree murder, but just before the hearing, prosecutors added a count of "accessory after the fact."

Court records show Edwards called someone from the Stephens County Jail asking them to dispose of the gun used to kill Lane. Edwards says he has no idea where that weapon is today.

The amended charge reflects the case initially filed against his alleged co-conspirator Michael Jones. Jones was said to have cooperated with investigators and Jones was initially charged as a youthful offender with accessory to the murder.

8/19/2013 Related Story: Police: ECU Baseball Player, Australian Native Target Of Random Killing

However, in November 2013, prosecutors beefed up the case against Jones charging him with murder. Due to sequestration, the judge reminded the court that no witness are allowed in courtroom.

The state called its first witness Richard Rhoades, a painter who was working near the area where Christopher Lane was shot.

Rhoades testified he heard "a loud pop" and then just two seconds later saw a small black car, similar to the defendant Jones' vehicle, drive by at a high rate of speed.

When his testimony was challenged by the defense, Rhoades agreed he could not identify the driver of the vehicle.

8/20/2013 Related Story: 3 Suspects Charged In Murder Of Australian Man In Duncan

Lane, who was from Melbourne, had been preparing for his senior season at East Central University when he died.

Police have said Jones told authorities the boys were "bored" when they targeted Lane. Autopsy results showed that Lane died from a gunshot wound to the back.