A Dayton woman has asked a judge to withdraw her guilty pleas in a deadly high-speed police chase and is seeking new counsel, claiming pressure from her lawyer.
The defense attorney said he “didn’t pressure” Alyssa Irwin-Debraux to admit guilt in the Sept. 11 Miami Twp. crash that killed local Realtor Mary Taulbee, but he will step down if need be.
Days before today’s scheduled sentencing, Irwin-Debraux, 19, stated in a letter to the judge that she has changed her mind in admitting to grand theft, failure to comply and involuntary manslaughter stemming from a fatal Moraine police cruiser crash along Ohio 741.
Irwin-Debraux’s letter stated she “felt pressured” by attorney Keith Fricker, doesn’t “fully understand” how the judicial system works and wants new counsel, a court official said.
“She’s a young girl,” Fricker said about the letter to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Krumholtz, a copy of which this news organization has requested from the court.
“And she may be somewhat scared and somewhat nervous of the unknown,” Fricker added.
The attorney said he found out about the letter Thursday in a conversation with Krumholtz, and Fricker met with Irwin-Debraux later that day.
“We talked about” Irwin-Debraux asking for new counsel, Fricker said. “I don’t know that that’s what she wants … Someone may have told her what to put into the letter.”
Fricker said he will ask Krumholtz to talk this afternoon with his client “to make sure what she wants to do. I think she is confused somewhat and scared. That may be part of it.”
After talking with the judge, if Irwin-Debraux still wants to withdraw her pleas, Fricker said he will file the necessary documents and ask that new counsel be appointed.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement that said: “The judge in this matter fully informed the defendant of her rights prior to taking her plea, as he would do in any case. The defendant did not express any reservations, and in fact, stated that she understood her rights. She was provided with a written plea form and informed the court that she understood it before she signed it.”
The letter was sent to Krumholtz about a week after Fricker asked the court to be lenient in sentencing his client, who pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to the charges.
Fricker “recommended that if the defendant is not placed on community control, that she be given the minimum prison term for each charge,” according to the Jan. 16 filing.
Irwin-Debraux “can be a great candidate for community control,” it stated.
Fricker described his client as a “good and kind young woman” with no criminal record. But she has “severe substance abuse issues with addiction to drugs, meth, crack, cocaine and others.”
Irwin-DeBraux “acknowledges her responsibility.” But she “was not the one who directly caused the death of the victim in this case” and was “described by witnesses as not driving reckless,” the filing states.
“She never wanted anyone to get hurt. Alyssa is truly remorseful … and is prepared to take full responsibility for her actions and is ready to suffer the consequences of her actions,” Fricker wrote.
His client “plans to use whatever time she may get to improve herself,” help others “and be an example for others to see that drugs are not an answer to life’s difficulties,” the filing states.
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, a 57-year-old longtime Realtor who had worked in Dayton, Englewood, Lebanon, Miamisburg, Springboro and Washington Twp.
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 - Moraine’s 2017 Officer of the Year — of any criminal liability.