Christopher Lane was laid to rest
IN PHOTO: Baseball players release balloons as a tribute to murdered Australian Christopher Lane, during a memorial service held at the Essendon Baseball Club in Melbourne August 25, 2013. Lane, 23, who played baseball at the Melbourne club and attended East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, on a baseball scholarship, was killed by a gunshot in the back on Friday as he was jogging in Duncan, Oklahoma.. According to police, one of the three teenage boys charged on Tuesday with the murder, told them that they saw Lane jogging and decided he would be their target, and then followed him in their vehicle and shot Lane in the back. REUTERS/Mal Fairclough

Michael DeWayne Jones surprised everyone before the Stephens County court when he entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a second-degree murder of Christopher Lane, an Australian college baseball player who sustained a fatal gunshot in his back while out jogging on Aug 16, 2013 at Duncan in Oklahoma City.

The plea came unexpected especially after Jones’ lawyers already had a plea agreement. The murder trial is supposed to commence next month, but with his plea, he has been sentenced to reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment with the privilege for a parole after 36 years.

For their part, the prosecutors downgraded the charges from first degree to second degree. Before he entered his plea in a choking voice, Jones apologised to Lane’s girlfriend, Sarah Harper, and asked for forgiveness.

Included in his plea deal is his exemption from making a testimony against his co-accused, Chancey Allen Luna, who is facing a first-degree murder for firing the shot. Jones was 17 when the felony was committed. He admitted he was driving a Ford Focus car along with other friends, James Edwards, who was then 15, and Luna, 16.

Immediately after the Lane shooting, the prosecutors charged Jones with accessory after the fact of murder in first degree and for the use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon. If convicted in trial, Jones will face life imprisonment without parole.

2013 investigators revealed the three teenagers were bored and decided to have fun by seeing someone dies. In his signed statement, Jones said he was aware that Luna was in possession of a .22-calibre revolver and saw the latter shoot Lane, who was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend. The revolver was never recovered.

Lane, a Melbourne resident, was 22 years old when he was shot. He was a baseball scholar at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. At the time of the shooting, he was two weeks shy of celebrating his 23rd birthday.

District Attorney Jason Hicks told the court he has been communicating with the family of the victim and the plea agreement was amenable to them. On behalf of the town, Hicks apologised to Australia.

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