Outside, here on the southern plains, there are ominous gray skies and a moist thickness to the air. For those of us who have spent most of our lives in central Oklahoma the current conditions have a far too familiar feel to them. Indeed, meteorologists working for the local TV outlets have been on all day with dire predictions. According to each and every one of them Mother Nature could well throw out the first tornado of the season sometime around sunset.
Given the situation, speed at the keyboard may be of the essence. Or not. Many contend--with some justification--the local weather people are in the business of not only predicting what will happen, but scaring the bejeezus out of the populace. It is their way of justifying all those state of the art radar systems and helicopters, not to mention legions of wild and crazy storm chasers.
While there is uncertainty about the weather, we do know that down in Duncan, OK, young Mr. Michael Jones copped a plea. The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay reports, Jones appeared in a Stephens County courtroom yesterday and admitted he was the wheel man when Australian baseball player, Christopher Lane was murdered as he jogged down a Duncan street.
The 2013 shooting was so senseless and utterly American it created a brief international storm. In it's wake at least one Australian official urged his countrymen to avoid all travel to the United States.
Clay writes Jones was convicted of second degree murder, which means life, with the possibility of parole after a little over three and a half decades in the joint. Michael Jones, who dropped out of high school after his freshman year, will enter the great black maw of the department of corrections at age 19. He will be at least 55 years old by the time he emerges.
Chancy Luna, who is 17, has been accused of being the shooter. He is currently charged with first degree murder and is set for trial in mid April. If convicted he will go away for life without any possibility of parole.
According to Clay, Luna's attorneys don't dispute he was the shooter, however they contend their client thought the gun was loaded with blanks and he had no intent to take a life.
That's right--Chancy Luna's defense is the whole grotesque incident was nothing more than a practical joke gone terribly awry.
Well everyone needs some sort of an excuse and given the circumstances, that one is probably as good as any.
The third person in the car that day was 17 year old, James Edwards. In a preliminary hearing he turned states evidence against Luna and Jones. In return he was charged with accessory to murder, after the fact. Right now his status is up in the air as his attorneys fight to have him ruled as a juvenile rather than an adult.
A fourth person, Oddesse Barnes is already doing 12 years for accessory to murder, after the fact. He is the guy the three amigos gave the weapon to after Lane was killed. Barnes claims he threw it into a field near his apartment, but the weapon has never been found. That means one of two things. First, he is either lying and gave the piece to yet another person, or, second, some other fine citizen of this nation found it by accident and is now carrying it around on the sly. Neither option is particularly comforting, but both are also perfectly American.
Let's face it, you can say a lot about the United States, but you'll never be able to accuse us of not loving our guns. And, as someone said a long time ago, waste not, want not. Just ask the National Rifle Association, because, in the end, they are in charge of what we call liberty.
sic vita est