A man has been given three life sentences for mowing down and killing three high school cross country runners while drunk driving in his pickup truck.
Max Townsend, 58, fled the scene after running over a group of seven Moore High School students who were out for a run in suburban Oklahoma City, on February 3, 2020.
Three of the students – 18-year-old Kolby Crum, 17-year-old Rachel Freeman and 16-year-old Yuridia Martinez – sadly died from injuries sustained in the hit and run.
The other students who were hit suffered some major injures and spent weeks in rehab.
At the time of the crash Townsend was said to be driving at 79mph in a 25mph zone and was found to be under the influence of alcohol and THC.
Townsend’s defense attorney, however, claimed he lost consciousness before the crash occurred as he was ‘choking on a Red Bull.’
Officers arrested him after he crashed into a Volkswagen Bug in a street next to the school, according to KWTV-DT.
He was found guilty on three counts of second-degree murder in June and after five-and-a-half hours of deliberations, Townsend was given three life sentences, the maximum penalty, in an Oklahoma courtroom on Wednesday.
Speaking after the sentencing, families of the deceased said they were relieved to hear of Townsend’s life-long imprisonment.
‘I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m still sad I don’t have my son but this is such a relief that we can close this chapter,’ said Tansey Hellbusch, mother of Kolby Crum.
Michael Freeman, father of Rachel, added: ‘I do want Mr Townsend to know I’ve forgiven him, even though he doesn’t deserve it.
‘I’m not asking this court for vengeance because that’s in God’s hands, but I do ask for justice.’
Townsend reportedly showed little remorse for his actions after he was sentenced by Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley.
Speaking to KOCO5, Cleveland County District Attorney, Greg Mashburn, said: ‘To take their life and continue to talk about them as they were just trash that he hit in the roadway is despicable and so he deserves every day he’s going to spend for the rest of his life.’
Townsend was initially charged on three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of leaving the scene of a fatality accident, and four counts of leaving the scene of an injury accident.
He was only, however, found guilty of the three second-degree murder charges in June.
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