A 19-year-old Ohio woman, Mackenzie Shirilla, was found guilty on Monday for intentionally driving her car into a brick wall at a speed of 100 mph, resulting in the death of her boyfriend and his friend. Cuyahoga County Judge Nancy Margaret Russo, who presided over the case, stated that Shirilla’s actions were not a result of reckless driving but were premeditated and purposeful, amounting to murder.
Shirilla was overcome with emotion as the verdict was announced, convicting her on four counts of murder and other charges related to the fatal incident that claimed the lives of her boyfriend, Dominic Russo, 20, and his friend, Davion Flanagan, 19. The case was decided solely by the judge, without a jury, and was based on the fatal crash that occurred on July 31, 2022, in Strongsville, approximately 20 miles south of Cleveland.
The conviction carries a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole after 15 years, as reported by Cleveland.com. The most compelling evidence against Shirilla, according to Judge Russo, was the “disturbing and heartbreaking” surveillance footage that captured the moment she accelerated her Toyota Camry on Alameda Drive and crashed into a commercial building’s wall.
The judge noted that the footage was unforgettable, showing Shirilla’s transformation from a responsible driver to a “literal hell on wheels.” She added that Shirilla had a mission, which she executed with precision, and that mission was death.
Days before the fatal crash, Shirilla, then 17, had taken the same obscure route, indicating that she had planned the crime, according to Judge Russo. After the verdict was announced, a tearful Shirilla was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley stated to the press that Shirilla intended to kill her boyfriend, with whom she had a turbulent relationship, and his friend’s death was an unintended consequence. Russo and Flanagan were declared dead at the scene, while Shirilla was found unconscious and trapped inside the wrecked car.
Shirilla’s defense attorney, Jim McDonnell, argued that the prosecution failed to prove that the crash was intentional and not a result of careless driving. The defense also noted that Shirilla and the two victims had been smoking marijuana before the collision. Shirilla’s family has stated that they plan to appeal the verdict.