Max Townsend

Cleveland County deputies escort Max Townsend on June 18 out of District Judge Lori Walkley’s courtroom. Townsend is facing multiple charges after he struck and killed three Moore High School runners with his vehicle Feb. 3, 2020, including three counts of second-degree murder.

The jury in the Moore hit-and-run trial went into deliberation Friday afternoon to consider a verdict for Max Townsend, who faces up to life in prison.

Townsend is charged with three counts of second degree murder, three counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a fatality and four counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury in the Feb. 3, 2020 hit-and-run outside of Moore Hugh School. Townsend killed three MHS runners and injured several more.

On Friday, both sides presented closing arguments, with the state urging the jury to find Townsend guilty and to sentence him to life.

“Rachel, Kolby and Yuridia are gone forever. This defendant should also be gone forever,” Assistant District Attorney Christy Miller said.

Towsend’s defense is that while driving, he took a sip of Red Bull, started choking, rolled down the window to spit it out and passed out, ultimately losing control of his truck and hitting the runners.

The defense asked the jury to find Townsend not guilty, claiming that they believe the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Townsend was fully conscious and in control of the truck when he hit the students.

“The only thing that makes sense in this case is that Townsend wasn’t in control of that truck at all,” said Kevin Butler, the defense council.

In their rebuttal statement, the state said that Townsend — whose son died the day before the crash — was “angry with his own life,” so he decided “to take it out on (the students’ lives).”

“These kids’ lives were cut short because of (Townsend),” Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Austin said. “... Justice for all of the kids is what’s due today.”

This is a developing story and will be updated once a verdict is reached.

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at or @reeseg_3.

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