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2 teens charged with first-degree murder in ballplayer's killing in Oklahoma

From left, James Francis Edwards, 15, Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 17. Edwards and Luna were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a college baseball player out for a jog in Oklahoma. Jones was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact and with firing a weapon. Stephens County Sheriff's Office

Two teenagers were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a college baseball player out for a jog in Oklahoma — a crime that one teen said they carried out simply because they were bored, according to police.

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James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, were charged with murder. A third teenager, Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact and with firing a weapon. All were charged as adults, according to the Stephens County District Attorney’s Office.

The charges were unveiled at a hearing in Duncan, Okla. The ballplayer, Christopher Lane, was visiting the town, where his girlfriend lives, the police chief told The Associated Press. He passed a home where the teens were staying and was gunned down at random, the chief said.

If convicted of first-degree murder, the suspects could face life in prison.

“They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said: ‘There’s our target,’” the chief, Danny Ford, told the AP. “The boy who has talked to us said, ‘We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.’”

Lane, 22, is from Australia but was in Oklahoma playing baseball. He was a rising senior at East Central University in Ada, Okla., a catcher who started 14 games and hit .250 for the Tigers this season, according to the school’s athletics website.

Witnesses told Australian television that Lane staggered and collapsed on the road after he was shot in the back with a .22-caliber revolver on Friday afternoon.

Lane’s father, Peter, said that the killing was “heartless, and to try to understand it is a short way to insanity.”

“The fact that something that shouldn’t have happened has happened — it’s the fact that somebody we all love so much is not going to come home,” he said from Australia in video aired by KFOR, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Lane's girlfriend, Sarah Harper, visited the street where he was gunned down. A memorial with flowers had sprung up.

The parents of Christopher Lane, Peter and Donna, speak at a media conference at Essendon Baseball Club in Melbourne, Australia, 19 August 2013. The Australian baseball player died after he was shot in the back in a drive-by shooting while he was jogging in the small town of Duncan in Oklahoma, in the United States on 16 August. EPA/JULIAN SMITH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT Julian Smith / EPA

“I don’t really care what happens to them,” she said of the accused in an interview with 9 News of Australia. “I feel like if they don’t get what they deserve now and in the present, they will eternally. They’re just evil people.”

Jennifer Luna, who identified herself as the mother of Chancey Luna, said her son should be punished if he was involved.

In a tearful interview with reporters, she addressed the parents of the dead ballplayer: “I wouldn’t want to be in that position that they’re in right now. I’m always on my kids. I always tell them: If I lost y’all, I wouldn’t be able to live.”

The autopsy on Lane was pending, the AP reported.

The three teens are being held in individual cells at the Stephens County jail, Sheriff Wayne McKinney told NBC News.

He said that there has been an escalation in major crimes committed by people under 18 in recent years in Stephens County, a rural ranching and farming community about an hour and a half outside Oklahoma City.

Also in the jail are a teen accused of murdering his 16-year-old girlfriend and a man just over 18 accused of killing a store attendant, he said.

“That is alarming that we’re seeing those type of crimes,” he said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think it’s unique. It’s something we’re starting to see nationwide.”

The two teens charged with murder were being held without bail; the bail for Jones was set at $1 million.

State Department spokesman Maria Harf on Tuesday told reporters the United States is "deeply saddened" to hear about the death of Australian Lane in Oklahoma.

"This is clearly a tragic death and we extend our condolences to the family and the loved ones," Harf said. "We understand that local authorities are focused on bringing those responsible to justice. Clearly, we would support that."

Jeff Black of NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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