DUNCAN, Okla. — With a motive that's both chilling and simple — to break up the boredom of an Oklahoma summer — three teenagers randomly targeted an Australian collegiate baseball player who was attending school in the United States and killed him for fun, prosecutors said Tuesday as they charged two of the boys with murder.
Prosecutor Jason Hicks called the boys "thugs" as he described how Christopher Lane, 22, of Melbourne was shot once in the back and died Friday along a tree-lined road in Duncan. He said the teens chose Lane at random.
Hicks charged Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, of Duncan with first-degree murder. Under Oklahoma law they will be tried as adults. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, of Duncan was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court.
Jones wept in the courtroom after he tried to speak about the incident but was cut off by the judge, who said it wasn't the time to sort out the facts of the case.
"I'm appalled," Hicks said after the hearing. "This is not supposed to happen in this community."
In court, Hicks said Luna was sitting in the rear seat of a car when he pulled the trigger on a .22-caliber revolver and shot Lane once in the back. Hicks said Jones was driving the vehicle and Edwards was in the passenger seat.
Family and friends on two continents mourned Lane, who gave up pursuit of an Australian football career to pursue his passion for baseball, an American pastime. His girlfriend, Sarah Harper, tearfully laid a cross at a streetside memorial in Duncan.
"We just thought we'd leave it," Harper said as she visited the memorial. "This is his final spot."
Police Chief Dan Ford has said the boys wanted to overcome a boring end to their summer vacation — classes in Duncan resumed Tuesday — and that Jones told officers that they were bored and killed Lane for "the fun of it."
Lane played at East Central University in Ada, 85 miles east of Duncan, and had been visiting Harper and her parents after he and Harper returned from a trip to Australia about a week ago.
His old team in Melbourne, Essendon, set a memorial game for Sunday to raise funds for his parents as they worked to have their son's remains sent home.
Tony Cornish, president of the Essendon Baseball Club, said Lane played with the club for 12 years. Cornish said Lane was part of the club until he left to attend college in the United States.
"Chris Lane was a good kid, just a great all-around guy," Cornish said. "We're still all in shock here."
Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper reported that roses and a baseball were placed Monday on the home plate where Lane played as a youth with the message, "A wonderful young man taken too soon. Why?"