Prosecutor: No race motive in shooting of Australian in Oklahoma
WASHINGTON — US prosecutors handling the case of two black teenagers accused of shooting dead a white Australian baseball player said Friday there was no evidence to suggest the killing was racially-motivated.
The murder of Chris Lane, 22, in the small Oklahoma town of Duncan has triggered a race debate in America after it emerged that one of the victim’s alleged killers had posted racist comments on Twitter earlier this year.
Several commentators have questioned why authorities had not pressed to have hate crime charges added to the indictment of James Edwards, 15, and Chancey Luna, 16, who are both charged with murder.
However Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks said while authorities were aware of the comments made by Edwards, there was not enough evidence to pursue extra charges.
“At this point, the evidence does not support the theory that Christopher Lane was targeted based upon his race or nationality,” Hicks said in a statement.
“The evidence is insufficient to establish that race was the primary motive in the murder of Christopher Lane.”
In separate posts on Twitter earlier this year, Edwards spoke of his “hatred” of white people.
“90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM,” read one tweet.
In another post Edwards claimed to have assaulted several “woods” — a derogatory slang term for white people — following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida.
Hicks later reiterated to CNN that he did not believe the crime was racially motivated. He noted that Luna came from a mixed race family, and that the third teenager arrested with the duo, 17-year-old Michael Dewayne Jones, was white.
“I have nothing in my files, paperwork or audio recordings that suggest that Christopher Lane was killed because of his race or nationality,” Hicks said on CNN.
Police have said Edwards and Luna shot Lane because they were “bored.”
“They were bored and just wanted to see someone die,” Duncan police chief Danny Ford told US media.
Hicks agreed that Ford’s explanation appeared to be the most likely.
“I tend to think that the police chief’s comments, that is they did it out of boredom are probably accurate,” Hicks said.
Both Edwards and Luna were charged with first degree murder, a crime punishable by death in Oklahoma.
Jones has been charged with use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and acting as an accessory after the fact.