Things weren't particularly peachy for Michael Jones down in Duncan, OK before yesterday. The 17 year old had been accused of being the wheel man during the drive by shooting of Christopher Lane last August 16th. Within 48 hours of being picked up by police he began to rat out fellow teenagers, James Edwards Jr, who he said was a passenger in the front seat and Chancey Luna who he claimed was in the back seat and was the actual shooter. Jones claimed Lane, an Australian from Melbourne who was in town to visit his girlfriend, was killed because The Three Amigos were bored.
In exchange for his gruesome little tale of life in small town America, Jones was charged with accessory to murder after the fact and use of a motor vehicle in the discharge of a weapon. Edwards and Luna, on the other hand, were both hit with murder in the first degree. District Attorney Jason Hicks explained, at the time, to the media and public the reason for the lesser charges would become apparent once the trial, or trials began.
Well, not any more.
In today's local OKC paper, "The Oklahoman," reporter Nolan Clay writes the Stephens County D.A. dropped those lesser counts against Jones yesterday and upped the ante to murder one. According to Clay, the prosecutor told the judge, Jones is now suspected of being involved with two other shootings--one the day of Lane's murder and another the night before.
Hicks would not give Clay any details because he said a judicial gag order prevented him from doing so. Clay reports the only other shooting on the 16th in the public record is that of a donkey. The animal was found dead around 8am about a mile from where Lane was killed that afternoon. According to his story, the donkey's owner said the beast was shot eight times. He also told Clay the Duncan police have not let him know if the two shootings are connected, but added, "It's a pretty hushed up deal." That is an understatement of monumental proportions. You don't usually see someone who is turning state's evidence in a high profile case slapped with murder one because he failed to mention to the D.A he shot a jackass.
The resolution of this whole nightmare was never the slam dunk Jason Hicks had led everyone to believe in the murder's immediate aftermath. For one, at last look, the weapon used in the killing has never been located. In fact both Luna and Edwards have previously claimed they weren't even there. That means the prosecution's entire case rested on the testimony of Jones, whose word has now been discredited by the very office depending on it.
The rest of Clay's story deals with local speculation about whether the shooting, or shootings were part of a gang initiation. The father of a local teen who felt his son was being threatened by Jones, Edwards and Luna claims they were members of a local chapter of the Crips. The Duncan police chief has said the three were wannabes with no real gang connections.
Gang membership or not really isn't the point here. The point is in America guns are as easy to get as fucking haircuts and loads of us, both young and old, are willing to use them just because we can. And--at this moment, no one really knows who pulled the trigger on Christopher Lane.
From a distance it appeared there was always more to the cruel mayhem than was being said and reported. Now, from that same long range view, it looks like the entire case is coming unglued--that everything we thought we knew was either just a fraction of what really happened, or, stunningly, complete fiction.
Jones was denied bail. Clay reports a preliminary hearing for all three defendants is set for November 20th.
Chris Lane was 22 the day he went jogging and was gunned down. He was a catcher on the East Central University baseball team and would have graduated in the spring.
His shooting death is one of 10,288 in the United States that have been recorded by Slate and @GunDeaths since December 14th of last year.
Yes, Virginia, there are no Mayberrys, but, unfortunately, there are plenty of Duncans and a whole lot of guns.
sic vita est