Final day of testimony in Max Townsend trial gets heated

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Both the prosecution and defense rested Thursday in the trial of a man who drove through a group of Moore High School runners in February 2020, killing three of them.

Townsend drove through a group of Moore High School runners back in February 2020, killing Yuridia Martinez, Rachel Freeman and Kolby Crum.

Four other students were injured.

Max Townsend
Max Townsend. Pic Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office

Townsend then crashed into a Volkswagen Beetle before eventually stopping at a street over from the high school.

He’s facing three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of leaving the scene of a fatality accident and three counts of leaving the scene of an injury accident.

During the final day of testimony on Thursday, the prosecution played phone calls that Townsend made from inside the Cleveland County Detention Center after the crash.

In one of the calls, Townsend is heard asking his sister, “How did this happen to me?”

He also said, “I might have been behind the wheel, but it wasn’t me.”

He then started quoting scripture and talking about Satan, saying, “He is as real as God.” He then said for a second time, “It wasn’t me.”

In another call, when asked if he was high on THC at the time, Townsend said, “I don’t know.” He also told his sister, “I had two beers.”

The state has maintained that Townsend was under influence of alcohol and THC at the time of the crash, with a blood alcohol level of .068, which is just under the legal limit.

The defense maintains that Townsend choked on a Red Bull he was drinking at the time of the crash, leaving him unconscious.

Photo goes with story
Yuridia Martinez, Rachel Freeman and Kolby Crum

On Thursday afternoon, the defense called a pharmacology and forensic toxicology expert, Dr. Jimmie Valentine, to the stand.

Valentine testified that a .068 blood alcohol level can effect people differently, depending on body size and how much the person has eaten while drinking.

He told the jury that in his professional opinion, Townsend’s alcohol level was not enough to explain the accident, saying he believes Townsend’s claim that he passed out is plausible.

However, during cross examination, Valentine told prosecutors that he was not aware that other witnesses testified earlier in the week that Townsend had his hands on the wheel, eyes open and was alert. He said he wished he would have had that information before forming his opinion.

Next, the defense called Townsend’s sister, Wanda Jones, to the stand.

She talked about how distraught Townsend was the day before the crash, when his son, Cody Townsend, passed away.

During cross examination, the state presented phone records that showed a text message Townsend sent to Jones the night before the crash. He told her that he didn’t feel well enough to drive.

It was implied in court this was due to the death of his son that day.

Jones was questioned by prosecutors about why she lied to the lead detective on the case about the text.

The detective testified as a rebuttal witness for the state, after the defense rested.

He said he asked Jones several times when he interviewed her after the crash if she received that text from Townsend and she continued to say she did not.

Jones had no explanation for why she lied to the detective. When asked by prosecutors if she was trying to protect Townsend, she said “I don’t know.”

Closing arguments begin Friday morning at 9 a.m.

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