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Jury finds Adrian Renteria guilty of lesser charges in deadly July 2013 crash

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — A Marshall County jury finds Adrian Renteria guilty of criminally negligent homicide and assault third in a July 2013 crash that left four teens dead and multiple others injured.

The jury deliberated all of Wednesday afternoon and part of Thursday morning before coming to a verdict around 11 o’clock. As the verdict was read, there were tears and exclamations in the courtroom filled with friends and families of the victims involved in the crash. Some of Renteria’s friends were also in the courtroom.

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 13 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. Previous expert testimony revealed there were calculated speeds that varied around 90 miles an hour during the crash.

Renteria was facing four counts of manslaughter and three counts of second degree aggravated assault stemming from the crash. The verdict returned, criminally negligent homicide and assault third, are lesser charges.

“I don’t think it was fair. They gave him misdemeanor charges, which means he’ll be out of jail in no time,” Maegan Cordell’s mother Cheryl Cordell said,”It was not fair and those kids did not get justice. It’s been horrible, every day and night, and today it’s just worse, but just put it in God’s hands, and go from here, that’s all we can do.”

“People lost families, and they’ll be forever changed. This man’s going to go free,” said Damon Parker, Ruben Pacheco’s brother. “These are misdemeanors and there’s four people dead,” Pacheco’s sister Samantha Maloney said.

District Attorney Steve Marshall said they can understand the families’ reactions. “I think their expectation coming in and rightfully so was that we would be able to convict this defendant of a felony offense and not a misdemeanor offense,” said District Attorney Steve Marshall.

“Mr. Renteria placed his confidence and future in the hands of our judicial system, believing that a jury of his peers would listen and weigh all of the evidence presented,” defense attorney Michael Stevens said, “We believe the jury performed their duty to the best of their ability.  We now will begin the preparation for the next phase of this process.”

Renteria will be sentenced at a later date. He has been held in the Marshall County jail since his 2013 arrest.

The victims’ families tell us they’re grateful for the work the prosecutors and investigators put into this case.