Mackenzie Shirilla guilty verdict in deadly Strongsville crash

She was found guilty of all charges against her, including four counts of murder, four counts of felonious assault and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault.

CLEVELAND — The verdict is in for 19-year-old Mackenzie Shirilla.

Guilty on all counts — including four counts of murder, four counts of felonious assault and two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide — in connection with the deaths of 20-year-old Dominic Russo and 19-year-old Davion Flanagan.

“This was not reckless driving. This was murder,” said Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo moments before announcing her decision in the bench trial Monday afternoon.

It’s a case that dates back to Sunday, July 31, 2022, when Strongsville police say the crash happened at 6:15 a.m. near the intersection of Progress and Alameda. Upon their arrival, officers say they located a Toyota Camry “with severe damage and full airbag deployments.”

All three occupants inside the vehicle — including Shirilla — were unconscious, not breathing and trapped inside the vehicle. Russo (Shirilla’s boyfriend) and Flanagan were both pronounced dead at the scene.

“The video clearly shows the purpose and intent of the defendant,” Judge Russo said when announcing her verdict. “She chose a course of death and destruction that day.”

We streamed the entire verdict announcement, which you can watch in the video below…

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Judge Russo said Shirilla, who was 17-years-old at the time of the crash, had “a mission” and executed it “with precision.”

“She morphs from a responsible driver to literal hell on wheels as she makes her way down the street,” Russo said. “Mackenzie alone made the decision to drive the car, to drive an obscure route, a route she visited a few days before, and a route not routinely taken by her. Mackenzie alone chose a time to make the drive, early in the morning, when any reasonable person would expect a few people would be nearby to witness it or offer life-saving assistance.”

She then emphasized how evidence showed Shirilla pushed the pedal to the floor, demanding an ultimate speed of 100 miles per hour.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley also stressed this point to 3News after the verdict.

“The intent was obvious upon seeing that video that there was only one goal and the computer demonstrated that there was no attempt to slow down or stop, that it was full speed into a building and tragically it cost two people their lives,” he said.

The prosecution said Shirilla crashed the car to end her toxic and tumultuous relationship with Russo.

“We put plenty of that sort of evidence in front of the judge,” said Tim Troup of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday. “There is no doubt that this happened because of the relationship with Dominic and the defendant’s intent was clearly to end that, and she took everybody that was in the car with her.”

As for Flanagan, Troup said he “got in the wrong car seat.”

“He was friends with Dominic, and Davion was just cargo,” Troup explained. “He was just a suitcase in the backseat in the defendant’s mind.”

3News also spoke with Flanagan’s mother, Jaime Flanagan, after the delivered verdict.

“We are just thankful that we feel justice was served today,” she told us. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t miss our son and justice was served for him today. But honestly there’s no winners here. There’s no winners here today.”

She said that she and Christine Russo, the mother of the other victim, shared a brief emotional moment.

“We’re just hugging each other and we’re sorry that this happened,” Flanagan shared. “We’re sad, we’re sorry, but we’re thankful. We’re thankful.”

Shirilla’s defense attorney wouldn’t comment on the verdict, but her mother told us she is shocked by the murder conviction and completely disagrees with the judge. She wants an appeal.

Sentencing in the case has been set for 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21.


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