Why Abby Michaels was found not guilty in her wrong-way crash murder trial



A Montgomery County judge ruled last week that evidence did not point to a Fairborn woman knowingly and recklessly killing members of a Mason family in a 2019 wrong-way crash.

Abby Michaels, 25, was found not guilty on six counts of murder and three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in connection to the March 2019 crash that killed Karen and Timmy Thompson, as well as their 10-year-old daughter Tessa.

Montgomery County Judge Steve Dankof presided over her four-day bench trial last week. Bench trials are when a judge decides the facts of the case and reaches a verdict.

Michaels was released from Montgomery County Jail on Friday afternoon.

Dankof wrote in his verdict that expert testimony from Michaels’ treating psychiatrist, Dr. Christina Waite, showed Michaels’ medical conditions like psychogenic seizures dating from 2010 onward.

“... (B)ased upon Michaels’ documented medical history, she was mentally ill at the time of the accident with borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychogenic non-epileptic seizure disorder and bi-polar disorder, all of which were untreated, such that Michaels likely was not ‘knowingly’ and ‘recklessly’ operating the car,” Dankof wrote in his verdict.

Testimony by paramedic Derek Montgomery, who treated Michaels at the scene of the crash was also cited in Dankof’s verdict.

Montgomery performed an emergency tracheotomy to create an airway for Michaels that March 17, 2019 evening. Montgomery recounted that he had to take this step because Michaels’ jaw was locked shut and could not be pried apart.

“As established by Paramedic Montgomery, the only explanations for Ms. Michaels’ jaws being locked were trauma and/or seizure,” Dankof wrote.



Michaels’ ex-husband testified on the trial’s first day, saying Michaels’ told him in a call shortly before the crash that she intended on driving the wrong way on I-75. The woman later texted her ex-husband that she loved him and that she was “dying now.” The crash occurred minutes later.

Dankof called this testimony “untrue and unworthy of belief.”

Under cross-examination, Michaels’ ex-husband admitted that he did not disclose this part of his brief conversation with Michaels to law enforcement when they interviewed him hours after the crash.

“To the contrary, he expressly denied such a plan,” Dankof wrote.

Dankof also ruled that a crash reconstruction discussed in the testimony of a Moraine Police Department sergeant only illustrates “chaotic, random data” and does not point to controlled movements occurring in the five seconds before the crash.

Michaels previously was charged with an OVI count, but that charge was dropped from her indictment before the trial started. This follows Dankof’s 2021 decision to not allow blood-alcohol results presented as evidence against Michaels.

Dankof determined there were irregularities in the way the blood sample was collected and handled before testing, as well as flaws with statements made by an officer’s affidavit to Kettering Municipal Court in a request to have a warrant signed.

In his verdict last week, Dankof said the blood alcohol test results were “inaccurate and unfairly elevated” because of law enforcement’s “total failure to properly refrigerate the blood samples, thereby resulting in ongoing fermentation.”

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