Judge throws out blood evidence in trial of woman indicted for fatal wrong-way crash

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A Montgomery County judge has ruled that blood collected from a Xenia woman accused of killing a family of three in a 2019 wrong-way crash can no longer be used as evidence in the case.

Abby Michaels, now 23, was involved in a head-on collision on St. Patrick’s Day in 2019 that killed a mother, father and their 10-year-old daughter as they returned from vacation. Witnesses allege that Michaels was driving on the wrong side of I-75 and that she accelerated before colliding with the victims.

The judge has ruled out blood evidence collected by the Moraine Police Department because, among other things, it was drawn later than three hours after first responders treated Michaels and brought her to Miami Valley Hospital.

Officer Steven Harrison, of the Moraine Police Department, was one of the first responders at the scene of the crash. Court documents assert that Harrison entered Michaels’ car without a warrant and retrieved her purse so they could identify her. At the time, medics were working to resuscitate her but were unable to intubate — eventually resorting to a tracheotomy to get her breathing again.

In his report, Harrison claims that Michaels “was aspirating beer, as observed by affiant and Moraine Medics on scene,” but the EMT testified that they only smelled ethanol, not beer.

When submitting the request for a warrant, Harrison also states his probable cause is that the “vehicle was driving NB on SB I-75, causing a head on collision. [Ms. Michaels] had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her person and was unconscious being treated by Moraine Medics.” This affidavit was submitted at 10:45 p.m. and approved by 12:30 a.m.

Michaels was moved to the hospital where Harrison would eventually serve the still unconscious woman a warrant to have her blood drawn — a Miami Valley Hospital nurse would do so five hours after the crash. Following the blood draw, Harrison left the OVI kit containing the blood out for USPS to collect — the samples were never refrigerated.

USPS picked the samples up eight hours after it was drawn, and the samples weren’t delivered until March 19, 2019, nearly 35 hours after the samples were drawn. The samples wouldn’t be tested until eight days after the incident took place.

Judge Steven Dankof asserts in his ruling that, “Based upon this Court’s express factual findings detailed herein, 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. The Court grants Ms. Michaels’ Motions to Suppress and In Limine in their entirety.”

Michaels still faces three counts of aggravated vehicular manslaughter, three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and six counts of murder. She is scheduled for trial on February 28 at 9 a.m.

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