Opening statements begin in trial of man accused of driving into Moore High School cross country team

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – It’s been over a year since three Moore High School students tragically lost their lives when a pickup slammed into them during cross country practice. The man behind the wheel, Max Townsend, has been charged with three counts of second- degree murder and fleeing the scene of an accident.  

He pleaded not guilty to each count.

Jury selection finished up on Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland County, with opening statements taking place shortly after. The courtroom then emotional as a parent from each of the victims who were killed took the stand.

The crash killed 16-year-old Yuridia Martinez, 17-year-old Rachel Freeman and 18-year-old Kolby Crum and injuring 4 others.

The state argued Townsend “did not care if he hurt someone.” And acted with “imminently dangerous conduct.” 

Saying he had alcohol and THC in his system when his truck plowed into the kids at 77 miles-per-hour.

The state said, “just steps into their run that day, this defendant changed all of their lives forever.” Comparing the crash scene to a war movie or a horror movie.

But the defense argues Townsend was unconscious during the crash.

They say he was grieving the death of his own son— who had died in a car accident the day before. 

The defense also said Townsend drove from Muskogee to Moore that day to plan his son’s funeral. And during the trip, he drove the speed limit– with cell phone towers pinging his route.

The crash happened within a mile of son’s home.

Townsend’s attorney says just before the crash he had taken a drink of Red Bull and “got choked” and “fell unconscious.” 

He said he did not know he hit anyone.

His attorney also said Townsend “never made any attempts to leave that scene.” And “did not have a depraved mind due to THC or alcohol or anything else.”

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Before recessing for the day, Yuridia, Kolby and Rachel’s moms all took the stand – describing the moments after hearing their children were fatally injured – many fighting back tears.

News 4 was told neither the defense nor the state wants to comment until after trial is over. Trial will pick back up Thursday morning at 8:30.

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