Max Townsend, the man accused of running over a group of Moore High School cross-country runners, is now charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of leaving the scene of a fatality accident, and five counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury.
Townsend was previously charged with three counts of manslaughter, three counts of leaving the scene of a fatality accident, DUI causing great bodily injury and four counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury.
While the maximum punishment will remain life in prison, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said the change in charges impacts the defense strategy available to Townsend.
Mashburn said Townsend had alcohol and THC in his system at the time of the crash, but that will not be the focus.
He added, murder in the second degree relies less on the level of intoxication, and more on the "imminently dangerous" conditions of the alleged crimes.
"That he is driving through a crowded area, a school zone at 77 miles an hour, with alcohol and THC, marijuana in his system," said Mashburn.
The three students killed were Rachel Freeman, Kolby Crum and Yuridia Martinez.
Their families said they want the maximum punishment.
"It's overwhelming. I have known that these days would be coming. I wouldn't say I am prepared. How do you prepare for something like this?" asked Tansey Hellbusch.
"Like Michael (Freeman) said, the wounds being opened again, and that the reality of...we are coming to this point, but again we go back to our faith. God is going to carry us through this, and we know that," said Jody Freeman, Rachel Freeman's mother.
That hearing is scheduled for July 24 at 9:00 a.m.