Jury selection to begin for man charged in students' deaths

NORMAN, Okla. — The second-degree murder trial of an Oklahoma man accused of crashing his pickup truck into a group of high school cross country runners, killing three and injuring five, is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said jury selection will start in the trial of 58-year-old Max Leroy Townsend. Townsend, of Tuttle, is facing three counts of second-degree murder and multiple counts of fleeing the scene of an accident. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

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, Kevin Butler, has said he hopes jurors selected for the trial will keep an open mind.

Police say Townsend was driving nearly 80 mph (129 kph) in a 25 mph (40 kph) zone, crossed two lanes of traffic, veered onto a sidewalk and crashed into the runners outside of Moore High School.

The day before the crash, Townsend’s 29-year-old son was killed in a multi-vehicle accident in Moore.

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