The father of the boyfriend who was murdered by Ohio teenager Mackenzie Shirilla in a 100mph crash says she needs help, not a life sentence.
Shirilla, 18, could face life without the possibility of parole until 2055, when she is sentenced in court on Monday for the murder of her boyfriend Dominic Russo, 20, and passenger Davion Flanagan, 19 years old.
She was driving the car at terrifying speeds at 5:30 a.m. when it hit the wall of a building in the Strongsville suburb of Cleveland, Ohio on July 31 last year.
All three had been smoking marijuana, and cops also recovered magic mushrooms from the scene.
“She’s just a child, her family is also destroyed,” said Dominic’s father, Frank Russo, 61. NBC News Friday.
Shirilla and Dominic Russo, the boyfriend she murdered. Her father Frank Russo said she also ruined his family’s life
What remains of the car Shirilla drove after the 100mph crash that killed her passengers
The moment Shirilla learned she had been convicted of murder
Prosecutors argued, and a judge agreed, that it was a deliberate act of murder by Shirilla, who was in a turbulent relationship and had been heard threatening her boyfriend in the past.
She and her family insisted it was an accident and that she had lost control of the car.
The court showed a text she had sent to Dominic’s mother saying she would need hypnotism to remember, NBC affiliate WKYC of Cleveland reported.
“I remember shooting in the street and then my vision fades to black. It really kills me that I can’t remember anything,” it read.
“I asked my therapist why I can’t remember and she said it was because of trauma, but I’ll try to go get hypnotized and remember.”
Mr Russo said she should stop pretending she doesn’t remember the accident.
“I would like her to just tell us what exactly happened and I would be willing to reduce the sentence.”
But Dominic’s older sister, Christine Russo, had less sympathy for Shirilla’s family.
Shirilla bragged about her drug-fueled exploits on social media, but they resulted in the deaths of passenger Davion Flanagan as well as her boyfriend
Dominic Russo (left) with Shirilla and her family
The crash site showed the aftermath of impact at 100mph
“All I have to say is she’s breathing,” she said.
“They can call him, they can tell him they love him. I would consider them lucky. Were not.’
She described her brother as a fashion lover who adored his children.
“In every photo he hugs and kisses the kids, he loved them so much,” she said.
‘We already miss him so much. I would do anything to really bring him back. Everything really sucks. It’s really very hard.
“Justice has been served, when you do something intentionally, you have to pay for your actions.
“But at the same time, it’s even more terrible now that it’s in stone, that my little brother, his life was stolen, was taken intentionally,” she added.
Flanagan’s mother, Jaime Flanagan, told WKYC after the verdict: “Not a day goes by that we don’t miss our son, and justice was served for him today.”
“But honestly, there are no winners here. There are no winners here today.
Her father, Scott Flanagan, insisted their family did not want ‘revenge’.
“Fair justice for our son who was nothing more than an innocent passenger looking for a ride home.”
Since Monday’s verdict, Shirilla’s attorney, James McDonnell, has repeatedly declined to comment.
Her mother, Nathalie, said she “completely disagrees” with the judge and hopes McDonnell will file an appeal on her daughter’s behalf.
During the trial, Nathalie testified that Mackenzie suffered from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, a condition that causes dizziness.
The condition, commonly abbreviated POTS, is one of a group of conditions that reduce the volume of blood that reaches the heart after an individual stands up.
The most common symptom is dizziness or vertigo.
When asked if this could have caused the accident, her mother replied: “It is possible.”
Mackenzie’s aunt also testified in her defense.
She refuted claims by Dominic’s family that the relationship was turbulent, telling the court the two youngsters were very much in love.
In the months immediately following the accident, the Shirilla family left moving tributes to Russo on an online obituary.
“She loved you, we loved you. All my family loved you. Forever in our hearts…forever,’ they wrote.
She too left her own tributes.
‘I miss you. I always feel like you (sic) are gonna walk through the door any second.
‘I miss your laugh your perfect smile.
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo sentenced her on Monday, calling her “literal hell on wheels” who was on a “death mission.”
“I feel your energy around me every day, I just wish it was physical.”
But the court heard previous recordings of her threatening to seize Dominic’s car and were told the couple had become particularly acrimonious in the weeks leading up to the crash.
As for Flanagan, Dominic’s friend who was also killed, prosecutors said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Police said there was ample evidence of reckless driving on Mackenzie’s social media pages, where she posed with cigarettes or drunk driving.