Mackenzie Shirilla was 17 when she intentionally crashed her vehicle into a building at 100mph, killing her boyfriend and friend.
The Ohio teen, now 19, was recently found guilty in a trial on 12 counts: four of murder, two of aggravated vehicular homicide, four of felonious assault, one of possessing criminal tools, and one of drug possession.
At the verdict reading on Monday, Judge Nancy Margaret Russo said “it was not reckless driving” but “murder.”
Before the incident, all three teens had smoked marijuana. Shrilla then got behind the wheel of the Toyota Camry and drove at high speed into a corner of a Strongsville building at approximately 5:30 a.m. A passer-by happened upon the crashed vehicle 45 minutes later and called 911.
Shirilla had miraculously survived the crash while her 20-year-old boyfriend Dominic Russo and friend Davion Flanagan were pronounced dead at the scene. At the time, she was unconscious and not breathing. She was subsequently taken to the hospital, where she received numerous surgeries.
According to prosecutors, she was in a toxic relationship with Russo and had come up with the plan of crashing the vehicle as a means to get out. She had allegedly scouted the route several days before getting behind the wheel.
Two weeks prior to the crash, she had also threatened to crash the car while driving with Russo after becoming upset over an argument. Russo had called his mother afterward and was later picked up by a friend. The friend who retrieved him also overheard her say that “[she] will crash the car right now” in a phone call with Russo.
In the days leading up to the crash, the teen allegedly threatened Russo numerous times. From his phone, several videos were recovered, in which she was heard threatening him, degrading him, and damaging his property. She also threatened to break his door after he refused to let her go into his home.
Judge Russo delivered a scalding description of the case before reading out the verdict, describing Shirilla’s plan as a “mission of death.”
A video of the incident was also recovered. According to prosecutor Michael O’Malley, the intent was obvious upon seeing the clip.
Following the crash, Shirilla wrote in his online obituary that “[she] misses [him] and that [she] also misses [his] laugh and perfect smile.”
According to Russo’s friends and family, their relationship had always been tumultuous. They also noticed that it had become particularly noticeable in the days before the crash. At one point, Russo’s friends even had to pry him away from her car during a fight.
As for Flanagan, he was simply an innocent passenger. He had been friends with Russo for several years and was just looking for a ride home the night of the crash. For Shirilla, however, he was simply “cargo”.
Prior to the verdict, his family released a statement, asking for justice. His mother also called for the Ohio teen to be put behind bars.
At the trial, however, her lawyers tried to argue that she had simply lost control of the vehicle, causing her to crash into the warehouse building. This was quickly disproven using the surveillance footage of her driving.
Shirilla could be seen sobbing at the defense table, looking at her family as the judge convicted her of murder on Monday. Judge Russo also noted that she purposely chose to drive early in the morning as there would be few people on the streets to offer life-saving help.
Her conviction comes with an automatic sentence of life behind bars. She will be eligible for parole after 15 years – when she is 34 years old. She is scheduled to return to court on August 21 when she will be formally sentenced.
Despite the circumstances, however, her mother is hoping that her lawyer will file an appeal.