Abby Michaels trial ends with closing arguments; verdict expected this week

After closing arguments Thursday, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof said he intends to file a verdict this week in the bench trial of the woman accused of killing three members of a Mason family in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 on St. Patrick’s Day 2019.

Abby Michaels, 25, of Fairborn, faces six counts of murder and three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Her charges are in connection to the deaths of Timmy and Karen Thompson and their 10-year-old daughter, Tessa.

Prosecutors argued that Michaels knowingly and recklessly caused the deaths of the Thompsons, using her car as a deadly weapon.

Text messages and conversations made by Michaels minutes before the deadly collision, as well as evidence from the crash reconstruction that show controlled movements of the vehicle point to Michaels’ intent, prosecutors asserted on Thursday.

“She fulfilled, or attempted to fulfill, her intent,” said prosecutor Bryan Moore. “She knowingly took actions that caused the death of three people.”

Michaels’ attorneys argued that childhood trauma paired with rejection by her ex-husband caused her to have a psychogenic seizure and lose control of her car. Michaels has a medical history that includes seizures and a brain surgery.

Jay Adams, an attorney representing Michaels, said Michaels could not have had the intent of harm if she did not have control of her bodily functions.

Adams also asserted that the state’s evidence fell short of proving Michaels intentionally drove her vehicle in the wrong direction on the interstate.

He also argued that the phone call and text messages where Michaels’ reportedly voiced suicidal thoughts do not prove Michaels’ intent in the crash.

“It’s easy for a narrative to be created,” Adams said. “And then it becomes the truth.”

Thursday also saw witness testimony from Florida physician and seizure expert Dr. Selim Benbadis.

Benbadis, who testified in a video conference, said psychogenic seizures differ from epileptic seizures, as they are not associated with an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain.

The physician said that Michaels’ 2013 diagnosis of a psychogenic seizure does not indicate that she also experienced a psychogenic seizure the moments leading up to the crash.

The defense argued that psychogenic seizures are determined by multiple factors and are difficult to predict. Benbadis agreed.

The nearly weeklong trial featured state and defense witnesses including Michael’s ex-husband, the man she was dating at the time of the crash, an employee at the pizza shop where she celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles investigator, a paramedic who responded to the crash scene, a Moraine Police Division sergeant, the mental health professional who treated Michaels’ after the crash and others.

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