Jury selection to begin for Oklahoma man in students’ deaths

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NORMAN, Okla. (AP/KFOR) — Jury selection is set to begin in the case of an Oklahoma man charged with murder for crashing his pickup truck into a group of high school cross country runners, killing three and injuring five.

Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said jury selection will begin Tuesday in the trial of 58-year-old Max Leroy Townsend. Townsend has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and multiple counts of fleeing the scene of an accident.

The February 2020 crash in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore killed 16-year-old Yuridia Martinez, 17-year-old Rachel Freeman and 18-year-old Kolby Crum.

Townsend has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney has said he hopes jurors selected for the trial will keep an open mind.

“He was working in Muskogee, had left there after he had gotten off work about two o’clock that morning,” Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said. “It’s our allegations at this point that he spent the rest of the day drinking.”

“They could obviously see that he was under the influence,” Mashburn said. “They administered the SFSTs – the standard field sobriety test at the scene – and were able to determine that he was in fact intoxicated.”

Court records show Townsend has two previous DUI convictions in McClain County. He’s also spent time in prison for child abuse, possession of stolen property and drug charges.

“We have a career criminal charged in this case obviously. Even if I’m not able to use it to enhance his punishment,” Mashburn said. “I’m definitely going to take it into consideration when recommending a sentence in this case.”

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