Abby Michaels Trial: Defense blames medical condition for wrong-way crash that killed 3

DAYTON — The trial began Monday for a woman accused of driving the wrong way on Interstate 75, killing a Mason family on St. Patrick’s Day in 2019.

News Center 7 was in court Monday as Abby Michaels’ lawyer, Jay Adams, made it clear that there is no question that the wrong-way crash that killed Timmy and Karen Thompson, along with their 10-year-old daughter Tessa, is sad and tragic.

Adams said the case can’t be decided on emotion, though. He claimed it’s about whether Michaels, 25, knew or could control what she was doing.

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“She didn’t murder anybody, she suffered from a medical condition,” Adams told the court.

He claimed Michaels, who was 21 at the time of the crash, had a long history of psychogenic seizures and had a brain surgery in her past.

Prosecutors had a much difference view of the crash. They said the Thompson family was headed back home after a vacation.

“By nightfall, that living family was no longer alive,” Bryan Moore, assistant prosecutor, said.

Moore told Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof that Michaels was upset that her six-month-long marriage was on rocky ground and possibly ending. He said that her estranged husband refused to let her come over to his home that night.

Prosecutors said Michaels went to Ron’s Pizza in Miamisburg on St. Patrick’s Day in 2019. When she left the bar and restaurant, she sent chilling texts to her estranged husband.

“Communications were sent to [Kyle] Pastorelle indicating an intent to take an extreme action in addition to a phone call,” Moore said.

Pastorelle took the stand Monday and said Michaels told him she was going to drive backwards down I-75.

Pastorelle said that he told her not to come over and then ignored a second call from Michaels. After that, he said she sent the threatening text.

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“’Good-bye, I love you. I’m going to die,’” he recalled.

He said he didn’t call police at that time. He only called his mom to tell her about the communication. He was sharply questioned about that by Michaels’ lawyers.

Pastorelle explained that he didn’t believe Michaels would follow through on her threat to drive the wrong way, claiming she made similar statements previously.

Prosecutors then asked him about the defense’s claims about Michaels’ medical condition. When asked if he had ever saw her have a seizure, Pastorelle told the court “no.”

Michaels’ lawyers quickly disputed that testimony and asked him why he helped raise money during a benefit for her medical issues, presumably including potential seizures. During questioning, Pastorelle claimed he knew she had them.

As News Center 7 previously reported, Michaels’ waived her right to a jury trial. Her case is being heard by Judge Dankof and he will be the one that decides if Michaels is guilty. She currently faces six counts of murder and three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in connection to the crash.