Montgomery County prosecutors on Tuesday asserted Abby Michaels intentionally drove the wrong way on Interstate 75 on St. Patrick’s Day 2019, causing a crash that killed three members of a Warren County family.
Michaels’ legal defense argues the crash was a result of multiple factors, asserting that Michaels has “suffered from seizures” since her youth and may have been displaying symptoms of a seizure the night of the crash.
Michaels faces six counts of murder and three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in connection to the collision that killed Mason residents Timmy and Karen Thompson and their 10-year-old daughter, Tessa, on March 17, 2019.
Her bench trial started Monday and is scheduled to conclude Thursday. Bench trials are when a judge decides the facts of the case and reaches a verdict. Judge Steven Dankof is overseeing Michaels’ trial. Michaels waived her right to a jury trial earlier this month.
The second day of Michaels’ trial on Tuesday featured testimony from state witnesses, including a sergeant of the Moraine Police Department.
Sgt. John Howard helped perform a reconstruction of Michaels getting off of northbound I-75 then turning right and accelerating the wrong direction on southbound I-75.
Over the five seconds before the crash, the assessment pointed to the gas pedal being pushed to the floor for roughly one second then braking before impact. Her vehicle was traveling more than 45 miles per hour at the time of impact, the investigation found.
Anthony Cicero, representing Michaels, said a few circumstances could have affected the movement of Michaels’ car, including the change in terrain from pavement to grass to pavement again.
During the trial’s first day, prosecutors presented several witnesses, including Michaels’ ex-husband, an employee of the pizza shop and tavern where Michaels was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles investigator and a man who witnessed the crash.
Kyle Pastorelle married Michaels in 2018. The couple separated later that year, and he filed for divorce two days before the crash, according to his testimony.
Pastorelle told the courtroom on Monday that he received phone calls and texts from Michaels the evening of the crash, but was hesitant to respond to her after taking one of her calls.
During that call, which lasted two minutes, Pastorelle said he recalls Michaels allegedly telling him she was going to “drive backwards on I-75″ after he declined to let her come over to talk.
She later sent a text telling her she loved him. Another message sent immediately after said she was going to die.
Also providing testimony Monday were a man who witnessed the crash and a nurse who stopped to provide medical care, as well as a Bureau of Motor Vehicles investigator.
Elizabeth Cress, of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, testified that Michaels did not disclose any condition related to physical or mental health when issued her driver’s license and her license renewal.
Ohioans who are issued their driver’s licenses are asked questions related to episodic impairment and other physical or mental conditions that could limit a person’s ability to operate a vehicle. Michaels reportedly responded “no” to these questions, according to Cress.