An Ohio teenager faces life in prison after being convicted of murdering two young men in a car crash last summer when she intentionally drove a car 100 mph into a brick warehouse.
Mackenzie Shirilla, 19, was found guilty of four counts each of murder and felonious assault, two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of drug possession and one count of possessing criminal tools. The charges stem from a crash in a Cleveland suburb last July that killed her boyfriend, 20-year-old Dominic Russo and passenger, 19-year-old Davion Flanagan.
Shirilla was 17 at the time of the crash.
Surveillance footage, which was a decisive element in the case, showed Shirilla turning slowly on one street before flooring her Toyota Camry down the street until it reached 100 mph and crashing it. Data from the car’s computer revealed the car reached that speed before it crashed at around 5:30 a.m. on July 31, 2022.
Police said when first responders got to the scene, they had to extricate each of the occupants who were trapped and unconscious. Authorities found Russo and Flanagan dead at the scene. Shirilla was airlifted to a hospital, where she recovered from her injuries.
The judge in Shirilla’s trial said that the final seconds in surveillance video that caught the crash were “key to her verdict,” making it an open-and-shut case.
“She morphs from responsible driver to literal hell on wheels. She had a mission, and she executed it with precision,” Common Pleas Court Judge Nancy Margaret Russo said. “Her actions were controlled, methodical, deliberate, intentional and purposeful. This was not reckless driving. This was murder.”
The judge also cited that Shirilla drove the car to an obscure route that she doesn’t normally take and made the lone decision to drive early in the morning when few people would be nearby to offer life-saving aid.
Shirilla did have THC in her system above the legal limit, but seeing those final moments on tape compelled prosecutors to charge her with murder instead of DUI, and try her as an adult.
“When you drive for four or five seconds with the pedal all the way down until you hit 100 mph into a building, we felt the charge was appropriate,” O’Malley said.
Doctors did note that Shirilla, while in the hospital, expressed “shame and guilt” about the crash in the hospital. Prosecutors used that to prove she had a “consciousness of guilt.” They also pointed to statements the 19-year-old made weeks before the crash, including one where she threatened to key her boyfriend’s car.
Shirilla’s attorney argued that prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to prove that Shirilla crashed on purpose and didn’t just lose control of the car as many teen drivers do.
Shirilla’s conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole until she completes 15 years of her sentence.
A GoFundMe page set up to pay for Dominic Russo’s funeral expenses described Russo as someone who brought “so much happiness and joy to others.”
Davion Flanagan’s father posted on Facebook that he hoped the judge came to “a verdict that is fair and brings peace to the families of Davion and Dominic.”
“We do not seek vengeance, only justice for our son who was nothing more than an innocent passenger looking for a ride home,” Flanagan wrote.