NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has been ordered to stand trial on murder charges in the deaths of three members of a high school cross-country team in suburban Oklahoma City.
After more than seven hours of testimony Friday, a Cleveland County District Court judge found that there was enough evidence for prosecutors to try Max Leroy Townsend, of Tuttle on three counts of second-degree murder and charges of leaving the scene of an accident.
Townsend, 57, is charged in a February crash in Moore that killed Yuridia Martinez, 16, Rachel Freeman, 17, and Kolby Crum, 18. It also injured five of their team members.
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.
Townsend pleaded not guilty to the charges, as defense attorney Kevin Butler said he hopes jurors selected for the trial will have an open mind.
“Mr. Townsend has pled not guilty because he is not guilty,” Butler said. “This is a horrible tragic accident, all of us on this side of the table, our hearts go out to all the families, the loved ones, these students, and it’s just a horrible thing.”
Court records do not show that a trial date has been set.