Driver in crash that killed Waynesville woman claims not guilty due to insanity

Tommy E. Abner

The Wilmington man charged with causing the death of a Waynesville woman in a June crash on Ohio 73 in Warren County wants to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Tommy E. Abner, 48, is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, operating a vehicle under the influence, driving while under an OVI suspension, a lane of travel violation and a seat belt violation.

Jeri Beth Murray, 51, of Waynesville and formerly of Carlisle, was pronounced dead at the scene of the June 18 crash on Ohio 73 near Bunnell Hill Road in Clearcreek Twp.

ExploreMan charged with vehicular homicide in crash tat killed Waynesville woman

Murray, a cancer survivor, had worked at UC Health at West Chester in the mother/baby unit, according to her obituary. She and her husband had three children and one granddaughter.

Abner is alleged to have crossed the centerline in his truck and crashed head-on into Murray’s car while under the influence of multiple drugs, according to an Ohio Highway Patrol report.

His lawyer, David Anthony Chicarelli, claimed Abner would be unable to assist in his defense "as he cannot recall any history of events pertaining to this matter.

“Defendant is a diagnosed schizophrenic that is not on medication or a treatment plan ever. Defendant also had a brain tumor removed back around 2002 and has not been reevaluated since to deduce its effects on his mental capacity,” Chicarelli said in the motion filed Friday in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

County Prosecutor David Fornshell said his office would respond in court.

Abner, who was treated for cracked ribs and facial lacerations, remained free on $100,000 bail.

The final report indicated Abner was not insured. Witnesses said Abner sat at a green traffic light at the intersection for two or three cycles “flailing his arms in disorientation” and narrowly missed crashing into one of them after crossing the centerline before crashing into Murray’s car.

A hearing on the not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea is scheduled for Oct. 30 in Judge Tim Tepe’s court.

In Other News