Jury will continue deliberations in Adrian Renteria manslaughter trial Thursday morning
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — The jury has ended deliberations in the Adrian Renteria manslaughter trial for the evening.
The jury got the case at one o’clock Wednesday afternoon and ended for the evening at six o’clock. It will reconvene Thursday morning at nine o’clock.
Renteria is accused in a July 2013 two-vehicle crash that left four teens dead and several 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. Nineteen-year-old Ryan Lawson, 21-year-old Blake Keener, 13-year-old Maegan Cordell and 18-year-old Ruben Pacheco died in the crash. 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. Previous expert testimony revealed there were calculated speeds that varied around 90 miles an hour during the crash.
There have been 13 witnesses, and three experts in this case.
During closing arguments District Attorney Steve Marshall told the jury eyewitness testimony revealed Renteria threw something out of the car toward the truck, and that “reckless” action caused the crash. “If this was an accident and this wasn’t his fault, why did he tell a lie?” Marshall asked the jury, citing prior testimony that Renteria initially lied about who was driving the car. Marshall also addressed the second truck that Renteria’s former girlfriend testified was a factor in the crash, saying multiple other witnesses didn’t see a second truck. Marshall reminded the jury about eyewitness testimony that the passengers in the back of the truck were telling Renteria to slow down. There were tears in the courtroom as Marshall talked to the jury about the result of that trip – a crash, injury, and death.
Marshall went through the seven charges Renteria is facing, piecing them apart, and walking the jury through the aspects the prosecution needed to prove before handing off the floor to the defense.
Defense attorney Michael Stevens questioned the credibility of eyewitness testimony that something was thrown from the car Renteria was driving, and how they could see that object from the distance they were away from the vehicles. Stevens said nobody from the truck called Renteria or the passengers of that car to tell him to slow down during that drive. “This was their family. These were people who got together week after week after week, and they would meet and they would swim and they would do things together. This was family,” Stevens told the jury. Stevens recalled the prosecution’s expert testimony on how the data recording device from Renteria’s car was analyzed, but how an attempt wasn’t made during the investigation to get the device from Lawson’s truck. Stevens said the data recording device from Lawson’s truck would have helped in completing this investigation. “This was an accident. That’s what it was plain and simple. Plain and simple, an accident. The prosecution has not proved beyond a reason of a doubt that Adrian acted recklessly,” Stevens said as his last statement to the jury, handing the floor back to Marshall.
In addressing the jury for the second time, Marshall said “This was not an accident. This was a crime, a crime that took the lives of four and assaulted others and we’ve proven that beyond a reason of a doubt.” Marshall said the prosecution met the burden of proof in this case.