Day 3 of Mackenzie Shirilla murder trial: Prosecutors play surveillance video of deadly Strongsville crash, show autopsy photos of victims –

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CLEVELAND — Wednesday was day three in the trial of the Strongsville teen charged with murder in a deadly crash that occurred last July. It was arguably the most emotional day in the court room thus far.
Mackenzie Shirilla, 19, faces multiple charges including murder, felonious assault and aggravated vehicular homicide. Shirilla, who was 17 at the time of the incident, is accused of intentionally crashing a vehicle with her 20-year-old boyfriend Dominic Russo and his 19-year-old friend Davion Flanagan in the car. Both passengers died.
The prosecution says she was going 100 miles per hour when she went off the road and crashed into a building near the intersection of Progress and Alameda Drives in northwest Strongsville at 6:15 a.m. on July 31, 2022. Many tears were shed in the courtroom Wednesday as prosecutors played surveillance video of the crash multiple times and showed autopsy photos of the two victims.
Shirilla appeared distraught as she wiped her eyes with a tissue, and Dominic Russo’s mother even removed herself from the courtroom.
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The first witness to the stand was Dr. Esther Tseng, a MetroHealth System trauma surgeon who worked on Shirilla’s medical report. She told the court Shirilla told their team she did not remember what led to the crash.
The prosecution also asked Tseng to read part of the medical report in which Shirilla expressed fault in the crash.
“‘Patient then became tearful, processing heavy loss and depression since her accident,'” Tseng read. “‘Patient shared feelings of grief, guilt, and shame. Patient stated she “wanted to die,” and that it was her fault for killing her boyfriend.'”
Shirilla’s defense attorney James McDonnell pressed Tseng for clarification on this.
“You just said and read that Mackenzie said it was her fault, correct?” he asked.
“I did read the words,” she responded.
“It didn’t say that she purposely killed someone, did it?” McDonnell then asked.
“Those words do not appear in that note,” Tseng stated. 
“OK, and whatever those words were, you weren’t there to hear them?” he asked further.
“That is correct,” Tseng affirmed.
Mark Sargent, a certified forensic mechanic expert for Fire and Explosions Consultants, testified on his investigation of the heavily damaged Toyota Camry and its event data recorder, or “black box.” He said in the moments before the crash, the accelerator pedal was being pushed down at 100% capacity, with no application onto the brake.
During his cross-examination of Sargent, McDonnell asserted that in the chaotic moments leading up to the crash, no one truly knows what took place, nor is their concrete proof of what happened inside the vehicle.
He suggested Shirilla could have been trying to avoid something on the road, a passenger could have pulled her steering wheel, or she could have been trying to regain control of the wheel. He also noted that how dark it was at the time of the wreck could have possibly had an effect on Shitilla’s perception reaction time.
It is of note that McDonnell did say that Shirilla could have been reckless in her operation of the vehicle.
Cuyahoga County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Joseph Felo testified that they changed their determination that the deaths of Russo and Flanagan were “accidents” to “homicides” after reading the incident report from the Strongsville Police Department. Felo also stated all three passengers of the car had marijuana in their systems at the time of death.
Other witnesses on Wednesday included a crash reconstruction trooper with the Ohio Highway Patrol and an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles investigator.
Although 17 years old when the incident happened, Shirilla is being tried as an adult. Prosecutors say if Shirilla is found guilty she’ll be facing 15 years to life in prison.
During day four of the trial on Thursday, the state plans to call the Strongsville Police Department’s lead investigator on the case first. After that, the defense told 3News they’ll be presenting three witnesses, including Shirilla’s mother and aunt.
Both the prosecution and defense also expect to present their closing arguments on Thursday, but they have no prediction of when a verdict will be dealt. Shirilla waived her right to a jury trial, so the final decision rests with Cuyahoga County Judge Nancy Margaret Russo.
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