PIEDMONT, Okla. – A jury has reached a verdict in the case against a man accused in the deaths of two teenagers.
Luke Ross, 19, and Sean Tucker, 19, were both home from college for the Christmas break when they decided to visit a friend in Piedmont.
Police say the teens were at a stop sign at N.W. 150th St. and Mustang Rd. when a speeding driver slammed into the back of their car.
“It was like an explosion. We thought it might’ve been a transformer,” said Lisa Yokley, who lives nearby and heard the crash. “We saw a big, like on our window in the front right there, it was a ball of fire.”
Investigators say the driver was likely going about 100 miles per hour when he hit the teens. Immediately, their car went up in flames.
“It was a very violent collision. Again, very high-speed collision that led to both vehicles bursting into flames,” said MSgt. Gary Knight, with the Oklahoma City Police Department.
The driver of the car, David Christopher Cochlin, was also rushed to the hospital but survived his injuries.
Investigators said not only was Cochlin speeding but his blood alcohol content was two and half times the legal limit.
In January of 2018, Cochlin was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder.
On Wednesday, Cochlin testified that he had three drinks at a sushi restaurant before driving later that night. However, he says he was not over the legal limit.
“A nurse described, the blood draw that was taken from Mr. Cochlin at the hospital was inappropriate, it didn’t follow procedures or policies that are known here in Oklahoma,” said defense attorney Scott Adams.
Cochlin said on the stand that he set cruise control between 40 and 50 miles an hour. During his drive home, he says that his foot became stuck between the gas pedal and the brake.
“It’s his contention that he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident and that the speed he was due to the malfunction of his foot getting caught underneath the brake pad,” said Adams.
Cochlin says learning that the crash killed the boys was the most "catastrophic feeling he has ever had."
The case was handed to the jury on Thursday afternoon.
Just 44 minutes after getting the case, the jury announced that it had reached a verdict.
The jury found Cochlin guilty of both counts of second-degree murder, and recommended that Cochlin be sentenced to life in prison.
His formal sentencing will be held June 25.
First Assistant District Attorney Eric Epplin sent News 4 the following statement:
“The defendant’s actions were frustratingly senseless, extremely reckless, and completely avoidable . The Oklahoma City Police Department Fatality Collision Unit and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab should be commended for the outstanding work they did on this case. By their verdict, the jury left no doubt that our community will not tolerate this sort of behavior. Though this verdict will not end the agony that the families of Luke Ross and Sean Tucker have felt since December 15, 2017, I hope the defendant being held accountable for his actions brings some measure of peace.”