Day 2 of testimony in Adrian Renteria manslaughter trial: witnesses recount deadly crash, say Renteria was driving aggressively

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — Witnesses involved in the crash that killed four teens took the stand in day two of testimony in the Adrian Renteria manslaughter trial in Marshall County Thursday morning.

Renteria is accused in a July 2013 two vehicle crash that left four teens dead and others seriously injured. The crash involved a group of young people, many of whom were friends or acquaintances. The crash happened on U.S. Highway 431 as the group was headed in two vehicles to Honeycomb, a popular swimming destination near Guntersville.

Prosecutors say Renteria is to blame for the two-vehicle wreck that killed four people, 19-year-old Ryan Lawson, 21-year-old Blake Keener, 13-year-old Maegan Cordell and 18-year-old Ruben Pacheco.  All four were in a truck that collided with the car Renteria was driving.  Investigators say Lawson was driving the truck, Cordell was a passenger in the truck and Keener and Pacheco were in truck’s bed. The crash happened on U.S. Highway 431 near Guntersville. Renteria is facing four counts of manslaughter and three counts of second degree aggravated assault stemming from the crash. There were 13 young people involved in the crash between the two cars.

Trey Brothers was called to the stand as the State’s first witness Thursday morning. Brothers testified he was with the group that day in July, and he was friends with Blake Keener. Brothers told the court he rode in Ryan Lawson’s truck to Honeycomb, in the bed. He said Adrian was “flying up aggressively” behind the truck a “couple feet away,” and said people in the back were telling Adrian to slow down.

Brothers says the last thing he remembers is Renteria driving beside the truck. Brothers testified it looked like Renteria threw something like a bottle rocket toward the truck. The next thing he remembers is waking up on the side of the road.

Defense attorney Michael Stevens asked if Brothers remembered someone throwing something from the pick-up truck to the car Renteria was driving.  Previous testimony recounted how an object passed between the two cars before the crash. Brothers said he didn’t recall that aspect, he just remembered something coming from the car to the truck, and that’s the last thing he remembers about the ride.

The State called Alabama State Trooper Josh Colquitt to the stand, offering Trooper Colquitt as an expert in traffic homicide investigation and crash reconstruction. Colquitt was on normal patrol the day of the crash, and worked the scene. “In my time as a State Trooper this was the most chaotic scene that I have been a part of due to the sheer number of individuals who were involved in the crash,” Colquitt told the court.

Colquitt explained in detail the process of working crash scene during the investigation. Colquitt told the court he was able to determine how many occupants were in the vehicle, four in Renteria’s car, and nine in Lawson’s truck. The State offered photographs of two of the victims at the scene for Trooper Colquitt to identify. There were tears in the courtroom as Trooper Colquitt recalled the photographs of victims Maegan Cordell and Blake Keener, who had died at the crash scene.

Colquitt continued to testify about the detailed investigation following the crash. He told the court the vehicles were examined as part of that process. Trooper Colquitt testified they did not have any obvious issues that could have led to the crash. The court heard how the initial damage on the vehicles correlated between the two. Colquitt testified the internal recording equipment in the car Renteria was driving was examined as well. He said the device is able to record information such as whether seat belts were buckled, and the speed information.

Renteria was indicted and arrested in November, 2013. Renteria has been held in the Marshall County jail since that time.

In August of last year, a judge denied Renteria’s request for youthful offender status, ordering him to stand trial as an adult.

Testimony is expected to continue Friday morning.