On the day of 20-year-old Dominic Russo’s funeral last year, a comment appeared on his online obituary. “I love you my nug,” read the comment posted under the name Mackenzie Shirilla—Russo’s girlfriend. “I will never stop thinking about you.”
Russo, along with his 19-year-old friend Davion Flanagan, died on July 31, 2022 when Shirilla—then just 17—murdered the two by smashing straight into a building at 100 miles per hour in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville, Ohio. Shirilla was convicted on Monday.
‘Hell on Wheels’: Ohio Teen Guilty of Intentionally Killing Boyfriend in Car Crash
Now 19, Shirilla was found guilty in a bench trial on 12 counts including murder, felonious assault, and aggravated vehicular homicide.“This was not reckless driving,” Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo said at the verdict hearing. “This was murder.”
On the day of the crash, police found the car with “severe damage.” Dominic Russo and Flanagan were both pronounced dead at the scene, while Shirilla, who was found unconscious, was hospitalized. During her trial, prosecutors argued that Shirilla and Russo had a toxic relationship and that she had threatened him before the fatal incident—including by threatening to crash her car.
“There is no doubt that this happened because of the relationship with Dominic and the defendant’s intent was clearly to end that, and she took everybody that was in the car with her,” Tim Troup of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday, adding that Flanagan died because he had simply “got in the wrong car seat.”
On Russo’s obituary, other posts made in Shirilla’s name included photographs of them together, including one tagged “Strongsville Prom 2022.” “You are the love of my life you will always be with me and I will always think about you,” read one comment using Shirilla’s name posted on Aug. 6, 2022— a week after the fatal crash. Another on the same day reads: “I love you Dom you are my soulmate I won’t never forget the memories we made together you made me the girl I am today and you were just an amazing bright soul.” It added a desire to “hug you one last time.”
“I miss you nug,” another comment on Aug. 24 reads below a picture appearing to show Shirilla and Russo at Universal Orlando Resort. “I still feel like your just going to walk in the door any second,” the post continues. “I miss your laugh your perfect smile. I feel your energy around me everyday i just wish it was physical. God u are the last person to deserve this you had such a perfect life ahead of you… i wish i told you all this more. Please wait for me.”
The comments, if indeed they were made by Shirilla, paint a radically different picture to that of the callous killer Judge Russo—who is not related to Dominic—described Monday. “She had a mission, and she executed it with precision,” the judge said. “The decision was death.”
Judge Russo cited security camera footage in saying that Shirilla acted with “purpose and intent” as she accelerated to 100mph before jumping a curb and crashing into a wall. “She morphs from a responsible driver to literal hell on wheels as she makes her way down the street,” Russo said. “Mackenzie alone made the decision to drive the car, to drive an obscure route, a route she visited a few days before, and a route not routinely taken by her.”
Shirillia’s conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 15 years, according to Celeveland.com. She is due to be formally sentenced on Aug. 21.
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