Court case to resume for I-75 wrong-way driver in Mason family deaths

Abby Michaels

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Abby Michaels

A hearing to suppress evidence will continue next month in the case of a driver charged with murder in the wrong-way I-75 wreck that killed three Warren County family members.

The hearing for Abby Michaels that started April 30 will resume June 5 with additional testimony, according to court officials.

The attorney for Michaels, 22, is seeking to suppress statements, police officers’ observations, and blood and urine samples taken hours after the March 17, 2019, 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.

Former Moraine Police Officer Steven Harrison testified last month he entered Michaels’ car without a warrant after the wreck because he was seeking information to help keep the unconscious driver from dying.

Harrison said “it was urgent and we were trying to save her life” during his more than two hours on the witness stand.

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Harrison said he didn’t take anything from Michaels’ vehicle, but saw in a purse her identification and a container used for fireballs, which he described as a cinnamon flavored whiskey. The container had dried, brown remnants, he said.

After Michaels was taken by medical helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital, a warrant was issued to draw her blood, Harrison said.

A nurse testified the blood was drawn about 12:50 a.m. That was outside of the three-hour time frame blood can legally be drawn in such cases, defense attorney Jay Adams has said in court filings.

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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, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof ruled Michaels competent to stand trial.

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

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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.

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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