Max Townsend

Cleveland County deputies escort Max Townsend out of Judge Walkley's court, Friday, June 18, 2021. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

Emotions were high as the judge read Max Townsend’s guilty verdict Friday night, but no verdict can replace what Townsend took from these families, the loss of their loved ones.

Townsend was found guilty on all three counts of second degree murder, all three counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a fatality and all 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.

Townsend’s failed defense was that he choked on a sip of Red Bull and passed out while driving his truck, causing him to lose control and run over a group of MHS cross country runners participating in their daily cool-down run. Townsend killed runners Yuridia Martinez, Kolby Crum and Rachel Freeman in the crash.

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

As a result of the verdict the jury recommended life in prison as his sentence. District Judge Lori Walkley will decide the sentence on Aug. 19.

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

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