‘Hell on wheels’: Ohio teen convicted of intentionally crashing car at 100 mph into building, killing boyfriend and friend

An Ohio teenage girl was convicted of murder on Monday, accused of intentionally killing her boyfriend and his friend by crashing her car into a brick building going 100 mph last year.

Mackenzie Shirilla, 19, was found guilty in a bench trial on 12 charges: four counts of murder, four counts of felonious assault, two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of drug possession and one count of possessing criminal tools. 

Shirilla broke down in tears as Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo said, “This was not reckless driving. This was murder,” at the verdict reading Monday.

The crash unfolded around 5:30 a.m. on July 31, 2022 when Shirilla accelerated her Toyota Camry into the Plidco Building, a large brick building at the intersection of Progress and Alameda Drive in Cleveland-suburb of Strongsville, police and prosecutors said.

Mackenzie Shirilla cries as she’s found guilty of murder in the death of her boyfriend in Cleveland on Monday.WKYC

When police arrived to the scene, around 45 minutes later, they found the car with “severe damage and full airbag deployments” and inside, Shirilla, then 17, her boyfriend Dominic Russo, 20, and his friend Davion Flanagan, 19.

They were found unconscious, not breathing and trapped in the vehicle, police said at the time. Shirilla was transported to a local hospital, but Russo and Flanagan were pronounced dead at the scene. 

Shirilla was 18 when she was arrested on Nov. 4, 2022 in connection with the crash.

Prosecutors argued that Shirilla had a toxic relationship with Russo and had threatened him before. 

Two weeks before the crash, she allegedly threatened to crash her vehicle when she was driving with Russo, because she was upset over a disagreement they had. Russo called his mother and asked to be picked up and a friend ended up retrieving him. During a phone call with Russo, the friend allegedly overheard Shirilla say “I will crash this car right now,” prosecutors said in court documents. 

The same month of the crash, Shirilla allegedly “made multiple threats” towards Russo. Videos recovered from his phone reveal an altercation in which she was heard “repeatedly degrading Dominic, threatening him, and damaging his property,” prosecutors said in court documents. She allegedly threatened to key his car and to break the handle off a door after he refused to let her into his home, the filings said. 

Judge Nancy Margaret Russo delivered a scalding description of the case before reading out the verdict, saying Shirilla had a “mission” she executed with “precision” that fateful day — and “the mission was death.”

“The [crash] video clearly shows the purpose and intent of the defendant. She chose a course of death and destruction that day,” Judge Russo said.  

“She morphs from a responsible driver to literal hell on wheels as she makes her way down the street,” Russo said, noting that Shirilla made a calculated decision to drive that morning, when not many people would be around, on an obscure route she did not routinely take.

Prosecutor Michael O’Malley told NBC affiliate WKYC of Cleveland that the crash video was damning in the case saying, “The intent was obvious upon seeing that video that there was only one goal.”

Jaime Flanagan, the mother of Flanagan, told the station after the verdict: “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.”

Shirilla’s attorney, James McDonnell declined to comment Wednesday.

She is due back in court for sentencing on Aug. 21.

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