Opinion: Columnists

Something 'frightening' should happen to Aussie's Oklahoma killers

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Crime,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Oklahoma,Analysis

A joke. That's what Jason Hicks, a prosecutor in Duncan, Okla., said about one of the teens accused of killing Christopher Lane.

The murder happened the night of Friday, Aug. 16. Lane was an Australian student attending East Central University in Oklahoma on an athletic scholarship.

Lane played baseball. According to news reports, he started in 14 games for East Central this past spring, playing catcher.

He would have been a senior if he had lived until the fall semester.

Three teens have been arrested in Lane's murder. All have been charged as adults. James Francis Edwards Jr. is only 15. Chauncey Allen Luna is 16.

Both have been charged with first-degree murder. A third youth, 17-year-old Michael Jones, has been charged with the use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to murder after the fact.

A Fox News story had this to say about Edwards:

"Edwards has had run-ins with the law previously and had been in court Friday, the day of the killing, to sign documents related to his juvenile probation."

That might have been what prompted Hicks to add in his two cents worth about Edwards.

"I believe this man is a threat to the community and should not be let out. He thinks it's all a joke."

Guilty or innocent, Edwards might have a point. Juvenile "justice" in America is a joke.

I realize that Edwards, Luna and Jones are entitled to a presumption of innocence. But assuming they're all guilty as charged, it's quite revealing that Lane was killed the same day Edwards was in court signing papers related to his juvenile probation.

According to news reports, police claim at least one of the youths said Lane's killing was "for the fun of it."

My hunch is that, if true, then the youths allegedly killed Lane because they were counting on their status as juveniles to protect them.

Had they been charged as juveniles and not as adults, here's the fate that would have awaited them:

They would not go to prison. Instead, they would be sent to some school -- possibly out of state -- that specializes in "rehabilitating" wayward juveniles.

On or about their 21st birthdays, they would be released back into society, possibly to wreak havoc once again.

That's what happened after a 13-year-old murdered a man named Jerrod Hamlett in Baltimore eight years ago.

Hamlett was talking to a neighbor when the punk chucked a bottle at him, striking Hamlett in the foot. Hamlett chided the punk, no doubt calling him the punk that he was.

The punk, who had a juvenile record and had ties to a neighborhood gang called "Cutthroat," left the scene. He returned toting a handgun and fired at least one fatal shot at Hamlett, who was only 23 when he was killed.

At the time he shot Hamlett, the punk was on probation in not one case of assault, but two. He'd been arrested six times in an 18-month period.

Still, when the punk went to court -- where his mother showed up sporting a "Stop Snitching" cap on her head -- the judge went easy on him.

The punk was 14 then, only one year younger than Edwards. The judge decided it would be "frightening" to send the 14-year-old into the adult system. He was sent to an out-of-state juvenile facility instead.

In November of 2005, I wrote -- and I meant every word of it -- that something "frightening" should have happened to the punk. If that something happened in the adult system, then so be it.

Something "frightening" should happen to Christopher Lane's killers too. Here's one man who hopes that it does.

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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Gregory Kane

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The Washington Examiner