Mother of ‘hell on wheels’ teen who caused double murder crash pleaded with judge to spare her before life imprisonment

Mackenzie Shirilla ‘will never emotionally or physically recover from it. She almost died too,’ her mother pleads to judge

Kelly Rissman
Tuesday 22 August 2023 16:32 BST
Ohio teen murdered boyfriend, friend by deliberately crashing car at 100mph: 'Literal hell on wheels'

Before an Ohio teenager Mackenzie Shirilla was found guilty on multiple counts of murder for the “hell on wheels” crash that killed her boyfriend and friend in 2022, her mother pleaded before a judge for “leniency.”

The 19-year-old was charged for a deliberate 100mph car wreck that left her boyfriend Dominic Russo, 20, and Davion Flanagan, 19, dead. Shirilla’s mother, Natalie Shirilla, pleaded before her daughter was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Addressing the families, she said, “I’m broken, sad and lost and my heart hurts for everyone. Davion was her new friend and Dom was the love of her life and he was part of our family.” The 19-year-old could be seen crying in the background as her mother spoke.

To Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Nancy Margaret Russo, the mother said, “This was a terrible, tragic, nightmare accident,” adding that her daughter “has no memory of the accident.”

“She will never emotionally or physically recover from it. She almost died too,” Ms Shirilla said as she asked the judge for nonconsecutive sentences.

Ms Shirilla began crying when she recounted the events of the day, saying that she got a phone call saying there had been an accident but didn’t know who was in the car; she called Shirilla’s boyfriend multiple times but got no response. Ms Shirilla then called Dominic’s mother, who also didn’t pick up, making Ms Shirilla nervous that she was also in the car.

“My son is dead,” Dominic’s mother told Ms Shirilla, she recalled.

“We loved him so much,” Ms Shirilla repeatedly said about Dominic. She then discussed that after the accident, people online were calling Shirilla a murderer and “making death threats”. She made calls to try to take down the comments, since her daughter’s phone was in the custody of police: “She would never ever ever murder the love of her life.”

“For three months after the accident, she would only wear his clothes. She would only eat the snacks he ate. She would only listen to the music he wrote,” Ms Shirilla said, talking about how she laid in her bed for three months with a “shrine” of Dominic next to her.

Ms Shirilla said she and her husband encouraged their daughter to experience a “second of fun” when Halloween came around after “losing her whole world.” She went to a concert with Dominc’s cousin and others.

“I’m hearing an awful lot about your daughter. I’m not hearing very much about the two dead people,” Judge Russo said when Ms Shirilla paused.

“I’m asking you for leniency because this was a tragic accident that she does not remember,” Ms Shirilla pleaded, with her hands in a prayer position.

“Davion – he’s a new friend…” Ms Shirilla started saying before the judge interjected: “What does that mean? That his life is worthless?”

“God no,” Shirilla’s mother protested. “They all spent every day together.”

“But isn’t that part of the problem, Ms Shirilla?” the judge asked, continuing: “That they all trusted each other? It’s a problem how they all ended up in a car together and two of them ended up dead.”

“I understand what it looks like. I’m saying that it’s a tragic accident – she would never,” Ms Shirilla said.

The judge replied, “We’re going to have to disagree on that.”

Judge Russo held the trial without a jury, explaining: “She had a mission, and she executed it with precision. The decision was death.” She added, “Her actions were controlled, methodical, deliberate, intentional and purposeful. This was not reckless driving. This was murder.”

The court was told that the crash took place at around 5.30am on 31 July 2022 at a building in a business park. Investigators said that Shirilla drove her car down a three-quarter mile road until it hit a speed of 100mph.

Data from the car’s computer and surveillance video showed that the steering wheel jerked to the right and then left before the vehicle left the road and crashed into the business.

After a passerby reported the wreck roughly 45 minutes later, police arrived to find Russo and Flanagan dead, and Shrilla trapped in the driver’s seat with a fuzzy Prada slipper stuck to the accelerator.

The judge told the court that the final seconds of the incident proved that Shirilla acted with purpose. “She morphs from responsible driver to literal hell on wheels,” she said.

The 19-year-old will be eligible for parole in 15 years.

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