Ohio judge throws out evidence due to police misconduct
MORAINE, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio county judge has thrown out blood alcohol level evidence because of police misconduct against a driver charged with murder in a wrong-way crash that killed a family of three in 2019.
The driver, Abby Michaels, 23, was charged with murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in the March 2019 crash that killed Tommy and Karen Thompson and their 10-year-old daughter, Tessa, the Journal-News reported.
Following Michaels’ attorney filing a motion to suppress her blood alcohol levels, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Steven Dankof found that there were inconsistences with police procedure.
Former Moraine police officer Steven Harrison made misleading statements to request a warrant to conduct a search of Michaels’ car and a blood test, the judge ruled.
Dankof wrote that Harrison’s statements “are patently false, utterly misleading.”
Harrison said that after the crash, Michaels “was aspirating beer” but a Moraine paramedic testified that he only smelled the alcohol’s odor from the vomit. The paramedic said there was no way to detect her concentration of intoxication from the vomit, the newspaper reported.
Also, Harrison described a Fireball Whisky logo cup filed with a liquid, but it was not a drinking container and it was empty, the judge said.
The judge found that Harrison put Michaels’ blood samples in outgoing mail for pickup and it went without refrigeration for eight to nine hours before the U.S. Postal Service delivered it to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations lab. State law requires that test samples be refrigerated while not in transit.
Dankof said Michaels’ blood alcohol level was not reliable.
Harrison has since resigned from the Moraine Police Department.
Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Greg Flannagan said that they were reviewing the judge’s ruling but nothing about Michaels’ charges will change.
Michaels is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 28, 2022.