Art Lawler Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ada News
By Art Lawler
Pontotoc County District Attorney Chris Ross struggled Wednesday to find an explanation for the second “thrill killing” of an East Central University student in less than a year.
“I have long ago given up trying to understand or explain human behavior,” Ross said.
“I’ve prosecuted 50 some-odd homicide cases, and with none of them did I think, ‘Oh, well, that makes sense.’”
Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old Australian national, died after being shot in the back Aug. 16 in a drive-by shooting in Duncan. Lane was a student at ECU and a member of the Tigers baseball team. He was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend the day he was murdered. He was jogging when the shooting occurred.
Three Duncan teenagers were arrested in connection with the homicide: James Edwards Jr., 15; Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 17. Edwards and Luna were charged in court Tuesday with first-degree murder and face possible life sentences without parole. Jones, who police said drove the ambush car — with Luna in the back seat and Edwards in the front passenger seat — was only charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact and use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon. Prosecutors said he was the only one to cooperate with investigators but could still face many years in prison.
In December, 18-year-old Gennaro Sanchez was kidnapped and killed by a fellow ECU freshman. In that case, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Jerrod Murray, 18, of Asher. In an affidavit, an undersherrif wrote that Murray confessed to killing Sanchez because he wanted to see how it would feel.
Though the Lane murder falls outside Ross’ jurisdiction, the D.A. said he feels the same frustration and sense of helplessness most people are feeling.
“We strive to understand things for which there is no reasonable explanation,” he said.
“They openly admitted they did it because they were bored,” Ross said. “They didn’t try to rob him. I would say ‘no reason’ is the reason they did it.
“The reason things are made unlawful is because something was not done for a good reason, but (when) you try to understand someone who is patently unreasonable, you’re not going to find a satisfying explanation.”
Like most people who enforce the law, or penalize those who break it, Ross said he has seen things he would prefer not to have seen.
“I would say I’m steeled to it to the extent that I can function and do my job, despite what’s on the ground in front of me.
“You suppress those emotions and go to work. You continue to suppress them until the closing arguments. Then you turn them loose.”
As to Lane’s death, Ross’ feelings line up with the rest of civilized society.
“I think it is certainly shocking that anybody would do that, and have those types of thoughts, even more so that someone that age would do it.”
Such acts are shocking but increasingly common. Like most Americans, Ross said he hopes such crims are not approaching a new normal.
The Oklahoman contributed to this report.