Oklahoma Court Orders New Sentence in Australian's Killing
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma appeals court on Friday ordered a new sentencing for a teenager who has been serving a life in prison without parole term for the fatal shooting of an Australian baseball player three years ago.
Chancey Luna was tried as an adult in the 2013 death of Christopher Lane, 22, who was shot while jogging along a road in southwestern Oklahoma. Luna, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In a court filing, Luna's attorney argued that his sentence was unconstitutional because the crime occurred when he was a juvenile, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down such mandatory sentences.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals agreed. It upheld Luna's conviction and ordered a resentencing.
"A finding that Luna's sentencing jury considered his youth with its attendant characteristics and his chances for rehabilitation in deciding punishment is simply not supported by the record," the court's opinion said. "... There was no evidence of important youth-related considerations, such as the juvenile's chronological age and its hallmark features — among them immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences."
Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Friday, and his office said he had not yet read the court's ruling.
Lane was a native of Melbourne, Australia, and was about to start his senior year at East Central University in Ada. He was visiting his girlfriend's family in Duncan, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, when he was killed. Investigators have said Lane was randomly targeted by bored teenagers, and three others have been convicted in the case.