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.

NORMAN — After a week of testimony from the state in the Moore hit-and-run trial, prosecutors began wrapping up their case Wednesday, calling multiple investigators who worked the case to the stand.

Max Townsend is charged with three counts of second-degree murder for hitting multiple cross country and track students outside Moore High School on Feb. 3, 2020.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Criminologist Danielle Ross-Carr testified Wednesday that she founnd traces of alcohol and THC in Townsend’s blood when specimens were brought to her from the Norman Regional Health System.

Dale Fine, an OSBI special agent, testified Wednesday that when he served a search warrant at Townsend’s trailer home in Fort Gibson, he found what he described as a “grassy substance” that “appeared to be marijuana.”

However, when cross examined, Fine admitted to never actually testing the substance, so he “could not be certain it was marijuana” but was “almost positive” it was.

The state called Darren Straus of the Norman Police Department to the stand next. Straus was in charge of downloading information off Townsend’s airbag control module, which he described as a “black box in planes,” but for cars. The biggest difference between the two is that the module only shows information beginning five seconds before a crash occurs, while an airplane’s black box constantly takes in data.

The crash that activated the module occurred when Townsend struck a Volkswagen Bug in a driveway. The five seconds before that crash were all after Townsend hit the runners, so the module did not record any data from when he hit students.

In those five seconds prior to striking the car, Townsend’s truck traveled approximately 330 feet with a max speed of 53 mph; he hit the Volkswagen going 35 mph. In that time, neither the brakes nor the accelerator was applied, Straus testified.

Townsend’s main defense is that he was passed out during the hit-and-run and had no control of the vehicle. Straus did not agree with that claim.

Strays said from the recorded data, “it looked like someone was trying to steer” the car.

The data shows that at five seconds, the steering wheel was turned 10 degrees right; at 4.9 seconds it was turned 11 degrees to the left, back to 44.5 degrees to the right, 106 degrees to the left, minus 30 degrees to the right and, finally, 69 degrees to the right at impact.

The defense argued that Townsend’s truck turned sharply to the right at the beginning because it struck and bounced off a retaining wall, not because he turned the wheel in that direction.

James White, a member of the Moore Police Department’s collision reconstruction team, testified that that assertion is not what happened.

White said from MPD’s research and reconstruction, there was “no deflecting” off the retaining wall. When the truck first struck the wall, it continued to drive down the wall, leaving marks, and later veered off the wall.

White did not finish his testimony Wednesday; he will continue when court reconvenes at 9 a.m. today.

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript. Reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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