Oklahoma Offenders

Chilling 911 call details final moments of Melbourne baseballer Chris Lane’s life

  • HERALD SUN August 2013


15 year old James Edwards uploaded this video to Vine. Courtesy Vine

THE teenagers charged over the murder of Melbourne man Chris Lane will be isolated from one another and other inmates in an Oklahoma jail as long as they are there.

Stephens Country Sheriff Wayne McKinney said they would be held individually at the Stephens County Jail for their own protection, and as part of standard protocol for anyone under 18.

“And we don’t want them collaborating with each other,” McKinney told the local paper, the Duncan Banner.

District Attorney Jason Hicks said yesterday that it could be months or longer before the three – James Edwards, 15, Chancey Luna, 16, and Michael Jones, 17 – would face trial. It was too early to say whether they would be tried separately or together.

Their next hearings are in October.

The high school attended by the teens is on heightened alert after “anonymous threats” were made just hours after the accuseds first court appearance.


15 year old James Edwards uploaded this video to Vine. Courtesy Vine

Duncan High School and Middle School added extra security as a precaution, and many parents chose not to send their children to school.

“This evening, we were informed by the Duncan Police Department of anonymous threats involving Duncan High School,” the schools’ superintendent, Dr Sherry Labyer, posted on its website.

“The credibility of the person or persons communicating the threats is very difficult to ascertain. However, we want to be proactive in taking reasonable precautions.”

Dr Labyer later added that school would resume “as usual” on Thursday local time, after an afternoon meeting with the police determined “there have been no further threats or incidents that would lead us to believe we should act otherwise”.

Additional security would remain at Duncan High School and Middle School through Friday, and patrol cars would be “vigilant” at the schools and the EDGE Academy for students not likely graduate from high school.

Video 2401883845 is not available

It comes as Edwards, who has been charged with first-degree murder, posted racist tweets saying he hated white people in the months before the shooting.

Edwards posted statements on his Twitter feed including a comment on April 29 where he tweeted “90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM”.

Edwards also weighed when George Zimmerman was acquitted over the death of Trayvon Martin.

“Ayeee I knocced out 5 woods since Zimmerman court!:) lol sh*t ima keep sleepin sh*t! #ayeeee.”

“Woods” is derogatory slang for white people. The feed also contains tweets glorifying violence, guns and gangs.


Joyce Smith of Duncan called 911 for emergency assistance for Christopher Lane. WARNING Sensitive material.



The Immanuel Baptist Church parking lot in Duncan, Oklahoma, where the three accused of killing Chris Lane last Friday were apprehended. Picture: Andrew Quilty Source: Supplied


Meanwhile, the harrowing last moments of Lane’s life have been revealed on a 911 emergency call.

The seven-minute call, released by the District Attorney’s office in Duncan, Oklahoma, begins with local Joyce Smith telling the operator she was driving her Toyota Corolla and spotted a bloodied man at the side of the road.

“There’s a young man,” Ms Smith tells the operator.

“He’s just fell over in a ditch and he’s got blood on him.”

It was 2.57pm on Friday.

Authorities allege Lane, a 22-year-old baseball player who had a scholarship with an Oklahoma college and was visiting his US girlfriend Sarah Harper in Duncan, was jogging along Country Club Road when he was shot in the back in a random drive-by shooting.

Ms Smith, unaware Lane has been shot, has no idea what had happened to him.

“I’m afraid to go over to him,” Ms Smith told the operator.

“I don’t know him.”

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Ms Smith told the operator Lane was standing at the side of the road, but then fell over in a ditch.

“I’m kind of scared to go over by myself,” Ms Smith said.

At 1:42 into the call, Richard Rhodes, a building contractor who was working on a house in front of where Lane was shot on the corner of Country Club Rd and Twilight Beach Rd, came out to investigate.

“The man that has come around the corner off Twilight Beach said, ‘He has been shot. Tell them to hurry’,” Ms Smith, panic in her voice, relayed to the operator.

“He said, ‘He heard the shot and he knows what the car looks like’.”

Mr Rhodes will now become key to the case against the teenagers.

Luna, the alleged shooter of a .22 calibre revolver, and Edwards, an alleged passenger in the Focus, were both charged with first-degree murder and face life in prison without parole if convicted. They were both refused bail.

Jones, the alleged driver, was charged with using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact of murder in the first degree.

He faces a maximum 45-year sentence.

Bail for Jones, who is assisting prosecutors and police, was set at $US1 million ($A1.1 million).

The three will be tried as adults.




The girlfriend of a murdered Australian baseball player Chris Lane says she will cherish the memories their time together. Courtesy Channel Ten


Mr Rhodes said he was working on the house, heard what sounded like a bullet being fired, looked down the street and saw a black car with a white sticker on the windshield.

The teenagers were arrested four hours later in a black 2003 Ford Focus with a white sticker on the windshield.

At 2:45 into the 911 call, Mr Rhodes had alarming news that Ms Smith relayed to the operator.

“He’s turning blue,” Ms Smith said.

Mr Rhodes said he believed the bullet went through Lane’s back and punctured his lungs.

At 3:19 into the call, the operator alerted authorities.

“We have a male who said he has been shot and is bleeding in the back,” the operator said.

At 3:37 she informed Ms Smith help was on the way.

“OK. We have an ambulance and a PD (police) on the way,” the operator said.

At 3:54 the operator asked: “Is he breathing? Is he conscious? Is he talking to you?”

Ms Smith asked Mr Rhodes and the reply was “Lane is not conscious and is barely breathing”.

About 20 seconds later Ms Smith relayed promising news from Mr Rhodes: “He just took a breath.”

At 4:26 an Ms Smith complained to the operator she couldn’t hear any sirens and at 5:53 she again raised her concerns.

“I hear no sirens. I see no lights. Oh my gosh how long is it going to be?” Ms Smith said.

At 6:06 Ms Smith said: “I finally see some lights coming.”

At 6:20 Ms Smith said an unidentified female passer-by was performing CPR on Lane and then delivered a warning.

“If you don’t hurry, he’s gone,” Ms Smith, relaying the message, told the operator.

“Ma’am. They’re coming OK. I can’t make them come any faster,” the operator replied.

At 6:47 Ms Smith said: “Finally I see them coming up the street.”



Chris Lane wears his baseball equipment in Australia. Picture: Essendon Baseball Club

Chris Lane. Picture: Essendon Baseball ClubSource: AP



Sarah Harper and Chris Lane.

Sarah Harper and Chris Lane. Source: Supplied


The operator asked if Lane has stopped breathing

Mr Rhodes can be heard in the background saying: “Yes.”

“Yes, yes they said he has,” an emotional Ms Smith confirmed.

At 7:06 the ambulance pulled up at the scene.

“Stop right here fella,” Ms Smith can be heard telling them.

Lane was taken to Duncan Regional Hospital where exactly 50 minutes after Ms Smith called 911, doctors pronounced him dead.

The accused teenagers were dobbed in by a local who claimed his son was the trio’s next target.

James Johnson, 52, called the police to tell them that the accused killers were hiding in the car park of the Immauel Baptist Church car park at about 5pm, two hours after they allegedly shot Lane.

“My son called me and said, ‘They’re saying they’re coming to kill me’ so I called the police and they got here within about three minutes,” Johnson told the Herald Sun.

Mr Johnson claimed that Edwards had threatened the life of his own 17-year-old son Christopher on Facebook. His son was at home with his mother and sisters near the church when he received the death threat.

“They threatened to kill my son because they are in a gang, the Crips, and were trying to get my son in it and I wouldn’t let him do it.

“I told him he couldn’t run with those boys. He’s a little terrified.”

Mr Johnson said the Crips was a predominantly African American street gang that began in Los Angeles in 1969 and had been in Duncan for the past few years.


'My son was their next target'

James Johnson believes his teenage son was the trio’s next target. Picture: Andrew Quilty Source:Supplied


He said the group consisted of teenagers who he called “wannabes”.

“I’ve been living here all my life and we never had this, but in the past few years gangs from Lawton have been coming here,” Mr Johnson said of the Crips.

Johnson’s son also attends Duncan High School, where suspect Luna and Edwards were students. He said he knew both boys and described them as “troublemakers” and “bullies” who had “no parental supervision”.

“I’m just glad they found the other gun, because they haven’t found the murder weapon yet,” Mr Johnson said.

Prosecutors have promised that the “thugs” charged over the brutal murder “will pay”.

District Attorney Jason Hicks said outside the first court hearing in the Oklahoma town of Duncan yesterday that he was “going to do everything I can to ensure these three thugs pay for what they did to Christopher Lane”.

“To those friends of ours in Australia, we would say to you this is not Duncan, Oklahoma,” Mr Hicks said.

“This is not Stephens County, Oklahoma.”


James Edwards, 15, charged with first-degree murder.

James Edwards, 15, charged with first-degree murder. Source: Supplied




James Edwards takes a selfie. Picture: Facebook

James Edwards takes a selfie. Source: Supplied


Stephens County Courthouse heard Edwards danced and laughed as he was taken into a police station to be charged after the killing on Friday.

James Edwards was treating the murder as a joke, Mr Hicks told the hearing.

Mr Hicks told the court that Edwards has previously been in contact with police, and that he had “an attitude of total disregard for law enforcement” when he was being charged over Lane’s death.

“He thinks it’s funny, and it’s all a joke,” Mr Hicks said.

“I believe he is a threat to the community.”

Mr Hicks said Edwards kept a probation appointment for another matter at the courthouse just minutes after Lane was killed.

“He was cold, callous and that was the demeanour that we saw throughout the course of the investigation,” Mr Hicks said.

Mr Hicks said that Luna had refused to co-operate with police.




Chancey Luna, 16, charged with first-degree murder.

Chancey Luna, 16, charged with first-degree murder. Source: AP



Chancey Luna.

Chancey Luna. Source: Supplied


The teenagers were dressed in orange prison jumpsuits and had their legs shackled during the brief appearance.

Edwards and Luna did not show any emotion, but Jones broke down in tears after Mr Hicks said he was looking at a “very, very lengthy prison sentence”.

“I didn’t pull the trigger,” Jones said.




Michael Jones, 17, charged with being an accessory to the killing.

Michael Jones, 17, charged with being an accessory to the killing. Source: Supplied


The courtroom was packed and divided.

In the front row sat about 20 family and friends of Harper, 23, who was not in court.

Cindy Harper told the Herald Sun her daughter was at home “trying to relax”.

Another Harper family member said “this is surreal” as they were taken out a side door of the court building by sheriffs.

A few rows behind was a distraught Jennifer Luna, coming to grips with a nightmare 12 months that saw the death of her husband in a motorcycle accident and now the prospect her son could spend the rest of his life in prison.


Jennifer Luna, right, the mother of 16-year-old murder suspect Chancey Luna, outside court. Picture: AP

Jennifer Luna, right, the mother of murder suspect Chancey Luna, outside court. Source: AP



Jennifer Luna, the mother of Chancey Luna, leaves court Photo: Andrew Quilty.

Jennifer Luna. Photo: Andrew Quilty. Source: HeraldSun


On the right hand side of the courtroom was James Edwards Sr, refusing to believe his son was a killer.

“Yes, I do,” Mr Edwards replied outside court when asked if he believed his son, who hoped to be an Olympic wrestler, was innocent.

In the back left area of the court was Jones’s parents and supporters, including his pregnant girlfriend.

She sobbed in her seat, eventually leaving the court before Jones came in.

Edwards and Luna did not appear to be fazed during their court appearance.

Even when Ms Luna stood up in court to answer an administrative question from Judge Jerry Herberger, her son didn’t acknowledge her.

Edwards didn’t look for family members.


James Edwards Sr believes his 15-year-old son is innocent.

James Edwards Sr believes his 15-year-old son is innocent. Source: AP



The sister of accused murder James Edwards is comforted by a friend, left, outside court.

The sister of accused murder James Edwards is comforted by a friend, left. Source: HeraldSun


Asked if she had a message for the Lane family outside court, Ms Luna told the Herald Sun: “I feel sorry for them, my heart goes out to them, it really does, but that’s my baby too.

“My boy was a baby too.”

Luna said there were no guns at her house, and her son was at home playing X-Box with her soon-to-be stepson when she came home from work last Friday after finishing at 3pm.

It comes after Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford this week said he had secured the confession of Jones who had summoned investigators to his jail cell and claimed they were bored “so they decided to kill somebody”.

Chief Ford said the teens had no motive other than to ”make a name for themselves”.


Prosecutor Jason Hicks, right, talks to the media following the teenagers' court appearance. Picture: AP

Prosecutor Jason Hicks, right, talks to the media following the teenagers’ court appearance.Source: AP


Lane was staying with Ms Harper in Duncan before going back to Oklahoma’s East Central University where he majored in finance and was the catcher on the team’s baseball team.

Ms Harper has revealed her heartbreak at losing her “best friend”.

She also told the Herald Sun that she didn’t know what punishment would be appropriate for the three teens.

Lane, who grew up in Oak Park in Melbourne’s north, had only been back in the US for three days after an eight-week break in Australia with Ms Harper.

“I don’t want them to have any future that Chris wasn’t able to have as well,” Ms Harper has said of the accused.

“It’s been pretty rough. It’s been hard knowing he was taken so close to home, let alone taken in the way he was. To be pointed out like that …”


Sarah Harper next to a memorial along the road where Chris Lane was killed. Picture: AP

Sarah Harper next to a memorial along the road where Chris Lane was killed. Source: AP



A memorial to Chris Lane near where he was shot.

A memorial to Chris Lane near where he was shot. Source: AP


She fondly described Lane as a smart, kind and curious guy who would “do anything for anybody”.

Ms Harper, also a talented sportswoman, said she and Lane just “meshed together” within weeks of meeting at college in Oklahoma in August 2009.

“It was more of a personality (we had in common), not so much interests. He was intellectual, into world news, and I found that quite boring,” she said.

“He really wanted to travel more. He loved the idea of seeing the world.”

Ms Harper said she would come back to Australia to farewell Lane with his family.

“I’m probably going to go back and say goodbye with the people he loved the most,” she said.

“It was a great time getting back there and seeing him in his element with all his favourite friends.

“It’s going to be hard going back but it’s something I need to do.

“Thank you to everyone who supported and loved Chris. I really appreciated it.”

– with Carmel Meloueny Stephen Drill


Christopher Lane's mother and sister.

Christopher Lane’s mother and sister. Source: News Limited