Blood alcohol findings can’t be used in triple fatal wrong-way crash case, judge rules

MORAINE — The blood alcohol findings from the driver charged in a triple wrong-way crash on I-75 on St. Patrick’s Day in 2019 cannot be used in the prosecution of the case, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof ruled Thursday.

Abby Michaels, 23, faces six counts of murder, six counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and a single OVI charge for the crash that killed three members of a Mason family.

>> Prosecutor: Wrong-way crash that killed Mason family was ‘deliberate’

Timmy Thompson, 51, Karen Thompson, 50, and their daughter, Tessa Thompson, 10, were killed in the crash on March 17.

Dankof in his ruling Thursday said Moraine Police Officer Steven Harrison lied in statements on court records that were used to get a warrant for a blood sample from Michaels while she was in the hospital. Harrison was one of the officers who were sent to the crash scene after 911 calls came in.

Court records showed Harrison resigned from the Moraine Police Department “under allegations of falsification and destruction of evidence.”

However, Dankof said while the resignation supports the court’s finding it “was not necessary for the Court to reach its conclusion that Ofc. Harrison was not credible in any material respect.”

“Ofc. Harrison’s affidavit for Ms. Michaels’ blood draw states: “vehicle was driving NB on SB I-75, causing a head on collision....and [Ms. Michaels] was unconscious being treated by Morain Medics,” Dankof wrote. “These statements are uncontested, correct and the only truth contained in Ofc. Harrison’s affidavit.”

“The balance of Ofc. Harrison’s statements in the affidavit are patently false, utterly misleading, and this Court finds, as a matter of fact, that they were made with a complete disregard for the truth and for the purpose of misleading Judge Long into signing the warrant,” Dankof said.

Dankof said statements Harrison made about smelling an alcoholic beverage coming from Michaels’ person and that she was aspirating beer were “flatly untrue” and were used to mislead Long into signing a warrant for Michaels’ blood sample.

The blood sample collected from Michaels at the hospital also was not collected quickly enough after the crash and went unrefrigerated for at least eight to nine hours while waiting to be picked up by the U.S. Postal Service., Dankof wrote in his ruling, citing part of Ohio’s Administrative Code for the Ohio Department of Health.

A spokesman for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said today’s decision won’t impact the charges in the case.

“We just recently received a copy of the court’s decision and we are still reviewing it. However, today’s decision will not affect the six counts of murder or three of the aggravated vehicular homicide counts for which the defendant was indicted,” Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan said.

News Center 7 is still awaiting a response from Moraine Police on today’s ruling.

“A wrongful conviction should be the greatest fear of any court,” Dankof wrote. “Based upon this Court’s express factual findings....were this Court to permit introduction of Ms. Michaels’ so-called blood alcohol findings, this Court would guarantee the admission of junk, forensic science at trial of this matter. And this the Court will not do.”

Michaels is scheduled to go on trial in the case in February next year.