DUNCAN, Okla.- A jury convicted a 17-year-old of first-degree murder Friday in the shooting death of an Australian college baseball player in southern Oklahoma.
The Stephens County jury found Chancey Allen Luna guilty in the Aug. 16, 2013, death of Christopher Lane, who was shot in the back while jogging along a city street in Duncan. The jury recommended that Luna be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Lane was attending East Central University in Ada, Okla.
Defense attorneys acknowledged that Luna fired the fatal shot from a passing car that he was riding in, but contended that he meant only to scare Lane.
"There was no motive, no plan to kill anyone," defense attorney Jim Berry said during opening statements. "This is a reckless action by a 16-year-old child."
The defense had asked that the jury be allowed to consider a second-degree murder conviction, a request that the judge denied earlier Friday. Second-degree murder would have carried a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
Luna did not testify and the defense called just one witness, Luna's mother, Jennifer Luna. In her brief testimony, Jennifer Luna said her son lived with her parents after he was born and that his father is in jail.
"I wasn't there half the time," she said.
A co-defendant in the case, James "Bug" Edwards Jr., now 17, testified that he was a passenger in the car when it swerved toward Lane, and Luna fired the shot. Edwards testified as part of a plea agreement in which a first-degree murder charge against him was reduced to being an accessory after the fact.
The car's driver, Michael Jones, now 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea bargain, but refused to testify for the prosecution. He is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
The doctor who performed the autopsy on Lane testified that even immediate medical attention would not have saved his life.
"Apart from a miracle, no," said Dr. Inas Yacoub, a forensic pathologist with the state medical examiner's office.
Yacoub testified that a .22-caliber bullet was recovered from Lane's body.
"Despite being small, it damaged vital structures and caused significant bleeding," Yacoub told jurors, striking two major blood vessels, puncturing both lungs and breaking two ribs.
The victim's mother, Donna Lane, wiped tears from her face when prosecutors showed jurors a photo of the bloody T-shirt her son was wearing. Lane and family members also wept during testimony by witnesses who tried to comfort Lane as he lay dying.
Lane, from Melbourne, Australia, was attending college in Oklahoma on a baseball scholarship. He was a catcher and preparing for his senior year at East Central University and was visiting his girlfriend and her family in Duncan when he was shot.