Case for wrong-way driver in 3 Warren County family deaths delayed due to COVID-19

A hearing to suppress evidence gathered against a driver charged with murder in the wrong-way I-75 crash that killed three Warren County family members has been delayed as COVID-19 spreads.

The hearing set for Thursday in the case of Abby Michaels is now scheduled for April 30, according to court officials.

The attorney for Michaels, 22, is seeking to suppress his client’s statements, police officers’ observations, and blood and urine samples taken hours after the March 17 wreck in Moraine that killed husband and wife Timmy and Karen Thompson, and their 10-year-old daughter Tessa, all of Mason.

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Michaels, formerly of Xenia, was deliberately driving northbound in the southbound lanes of I-75, authorities said. She 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.

To curb the spread of the coronavirus, each judge has discretion on a case-by-case basis whether hearings and other matters will proceed as scheduled, according to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court website.

The attorney for Michaels said evidence was gathered in questionable fashion, court records show.

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“Because defendant’s blood sample from the hospital was obtained outside of the time frame allowed by statute (3 hours), was not properly stored (not refrigerated), and no sufficient chain of custody was maintained, the sample must be suppressed,” court documents filed in February by defense attorney Jay Adams state.

After initially entering a not guilty plea for Michaels, Adams in late August filed a motion to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. After a series of evaluations, Judge Steven Dankof ruled Michaels competent to stand trial.

No trial date has been set.

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Michaels has remained in the Montgomery County Jail on a $3 million bond since shortly after the indictment in the crash, which occurred about 8 p.m. near I-75’s mile marker 49, records show.

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

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

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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.

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