What a Dayton woman’s attorney called a “tough, tragic case” ended Thursday with her being sentenced to 13 years in prison for her role in a deadly police chase.
Alyssa Irwin-Debraux, 19, will serve time in the Ohio Reformatory for Women after pleading guilty to crimes involving a Sept. 11 high-speed Moraine police pursuit that killed an uninvolved driver, local Realtor Mary Taulbee.
Irwin-Debraux, who had no prior criminal record, apologized in court to many of those involved in and affected by her actions along Ohio 741 through Moraine and Miami Twp. that evening.
But Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Michael Krumholtz said the words of the defendant – who earlier said in court documents she did not directly cause Taulbee’s death – were insufficient.
“The court simply and utterly disagrees,” Krumholtz said.
“For Ms. Irwin-Debraux to say she’s not the one to directly cause the death of Mrs. Taulbee is like saying the person who lit the fuse on the dynamite is not responsible for the resulting explosion,” he added.
After statements and reading letters from Taulbee’s family, Krumholtz sentenced Irwin-Debraux to 10 years for involuntary manslaughter, 18 months for failure to comply and 18 months for grand theft.
Punishments for the crimes – which the defendant on Dec. 20 pleaded guilty to — will be served consecutively, he said. Krumholtz also fined her costs related to Taulbee’s death and barred from regaining a driver’s license, a document she lacked on Sept. 11, records show.
Prosecutors in court documents sought a sentence of 15.5 years in prison, calling the incident “an easily preventable tragedy.” Defense attorney Keith Fricker asked for leniency, including community control.
Fricker in court documents described his client as a “good and kind young woman.” But she has “severe substance abuse issues with addiction to drugs, meth, crack, cocaine and others.”
Before sentencing, Irwin-Debraux read a statement in which she told Taulbee’s family: “I cannot imagine the loss you all have felt. I would like to go back and change what happened. However, I cannot do that.”
Taulbee’s son, Scott, told the court the 57-year-old was a “fantastic person” who had a long, rewarding real estate career. During her years working in areas such as Dayton, Englewood, Lebanon, Miamisburg, Springboro and Washington Twp., she made her clients feel “like family.”
Taulbee’s own family enriched her life further, her son said, including her husband David, who wrote to Krumholtz before sentencing: “I am told not to think about the future, because it is so dark and empty for me without Mary.”
A testament to the loss felt by her death, Scott Taulbee told the court, was the two-hour wait at her services, in part “because people came from (several) states away.”
Fricker said after sentencing, “It’s just a tragedy…a sad, tough, tragic case.”
In earlier accounts, Irwin-Debraux told authorities she stole a Jeep to flee an attempted rape. Krumholtz said Thursday he did not find that explanation credible.
“It defies (logic) to believe that someone who is fleeing an attempted rape would not stop for an oncoming police officer to seek the assistance and protection,” he said.
“Any instance of a vehicle fleeing police is inherently reckless and dangerous, as evidenced by the horrific outcome in this case,” he said.
The high-speed chase involving Moraine police officer Matt Barrie began after a Jeep was reported stolen and Barrie spotted a vehicle on Ohio 741 matching its description, authorities said.
Authorities said Barrie sought to pull the Jeep over, but it fled, heading south into Miami Twp., where records show it reached more than 80 miles per hour.
During the chase, a car heading north on Ohio 741 attempted to pull over into another lane to prevent being hit by the Jeep, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The car hit the back of a Hyundai being driven by Taulbee. The impact caused Taulbee to lose control of the car and spin in front of the Moraine cruiser, authorities said.
The cruiser struck the Hyundai, killing Taulbee.
Irwin-Debraux continued to flee until she crashed into another vehicle and flipped the Jeep onto its top near the Dayton Mall entrance, police said
She fled on foot to a nearby gas station, where she was arrested by Miami Twp. police.
A grand jury cleared Barrie of any criminal liability.
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