Accused wrong-way driver ruled competent for murder trial in triple fatal

The woman facing murder and other charges in connection with a wrong-way St. Patrick’s Day crash that killed three Mason family members is competent to stand trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.

A not guilty by reason of insanity plea was sought for Abby Michaels, who prosecutors said deliberately drove northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75, causing the deaths of Timmy and Karen Thompson, and their 10-year-old daughter Tessa.

But Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven K. Dankof said Michaels, 21, can face trial for the March 17, 2019 wreck in Moraine.

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Dankof’s decision was part of a brief hearing Wednesday. The prosecution said they expected the ruling in its favor.

“It has been our position all along that this defendant was fully aware of her actions at the times, and we anticipated that the forensic examiner would find the defendant competent to stand trial,” prosecutor’s office Public Information Officer Greg Flannagan said in an email.

Attempts to reach the attorney for Michaels after the hearing were unsuccessful. Court records do not indicate a trial date has been set, but a hearing is scheduled for Feb. 28.

Michaels, formerly of Xenia, was indicted in July on six counts of murder, six counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

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She has remained in the Montgomery County Jail on a $3 million bond since shortly after the indictment.

After initially entering a not guilty plea for Michaels, attorney Jay Adams in late August filed a motion to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Dankof then ordered a competency evaluation.

In October, the judge ordered an additional sanity and mental competency evaluation.

County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. has said Michaels deliberately drove the wrong way northbound in the southbound lanes of I-75 in Moraine after pulling over in an emergency U-Turn area on the highway near mile marker 49.

Blood-alcohol tests show Michaels was above the legal limit, police records show, but Heck said that was not a factor in the wreck.

RELATED: Estranged husband: Wife in deadly crash planned ‘to drive backwards on I-75’

A statement from Michaels’ estranged husband on July 8 indicated she told him “I’m going to drive backwards on I-75” just minutes before the triple-fatal crash occurred, according to Moraine Police Division records.

Michaels’ husband said she called him about 8 p.m. March 17 and it appeared she had been drinking.

“Abby insisted on coming over,” police records show.

The call to her husband was made after Michaels saw friends at Miamisburg pizza restaurant, police records show.

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