Ex-husband testifies in I-75 wrong-way fatal crash trial

Three members of Warren County family were killed in accident.



The ex-husband of a woman accused of causing the Interstate 75 accident that killed three members of a Warren County family in a wrong-way crash on St. Patrick’s Day 2019 testified that his ex-wife allegedly said in a phone call that night she was going to drive backwards on the highway.

The bench trial for Abby Marie Michaels, 25, of Fairborn began Monday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, a week after waiving her right to a jury trial.

Michaels faces six counts of murder and three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in connection to the collision that killed Timmy and Karen Thompson and their 10-year-old daughter, Tessa, on March 17, 2019.

Three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of OVI were dropped from her indictment last week.

Michaels is accused of driving the wrong-way on I-75 near Moraine.

Prosecutors presented evidence to Judge Steven Dankof for several hours Monday. asserting that facts of the case point to Michaels intentionally driving the wrong way.

This included testimony from Michaels’ ex-husband, an employee at the pizza shop and tavern where she ate and drank before the St. Patrick’s Day crash and the man she was dating at the time of 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.

The man 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.

Casey Goode, an employee of Ron’s Pizza in West Carrollton, said Michaels and her boyfriend at the time, Terry Soder, left the eatery after celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

The employee, who knew Soder as a regular customer, allegedly offered the two rides home. They declined, saying they had a rideshare service on the way to them.

Surveillance footage from the business later captures the couple parting ways at the end of the night.

Michaels’ legal defense raised concerns about her medical history, which includes seizures and a brain surgery.

“What happened was a tragic event,” said Jay Adams, an attorney defending Michaels. “But the question is, where does this story begin? What are the facts?”

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck previously said that despite Michaels being at a bar that night, intoxication was not a factor in the crash.

“This was not accidental. This defendant was upset and decided to take the action that she did,” Heck said during a press conference following Michaels’ indictment in July 2019. “Evidence shows this defendant knew what she was doing and what she wanted to accomplish.”

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.

The bench trial is expected to continue throughout the week.

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