STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — An Ohio teenager on Monday received two life sentences in the July 2022 murders of her boyfriend and another man.
Mackenzie Shirilla, of Strongsville, was found guilty earlier this month on 12 total counts, including charges of murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and drug possession for a July 2022 crash that killed her boyfriend, 20-year-old Dominic Russo, and their friend, 19-year-old Davion Flanagan.
She will be eligible for parole after 15 years. Additionally, her driver’s license will be suspended for life.
“I’m so deeply sorry,” Shirilla said in a brief statement on Monday. “I would never let this happen or do it on purpose. We are all friends and Dom was my soulmate. I wish I could take all your pain away. I’m so sorry.”
Cuyahoga County prosecutors proved Shirilla intentionally caused the early July 31, 2022, crash, and that evidence showed the then-17-year-old slammed on the gas, speeding along a dead-end street in a Strongsville business park, purposely slamming into a brick wall, killing Russo and Flanagan.
At her sentencing Monday, prosecutors said Shirilla soon after the high-speed crash asked if authorities “could just suspend her license for 10 years” — perspective they said showed Shirilla’s “shocking lack of remorse” following their deaths.
During Shirilla’s weeks-long hospitalization following the crash, investigators were told she and her mother were seeking employment with a Los Angeles-based modeling agency, prosecutors said.
Then, months after the crash and before she was formally charged, Shirilla could be seen on social media posts celebrating Halloween, and attending a concert in Cleveland’s Flats district.
Watch the full sentencing hearing below:
Angelo Russo called his little brother Dom the most “selfless” person he knows — while Shirilla is “the most selfish.”
“Dom was my best friend and the friends in this courtroom would also say Dom was their best friend,” he said.
Dominic’s mother Christine said it was like she “lost three children” in the crash — but that her son is always on her mind.
“The pain is forevermore. Time does not heal this wound. Mackenzie, you’re going to prison because you did this,” she said. “Be thankful you’re still alive and have a future — whatever that may be. Dominic and Davion were robbed of their futures — their hopes and their dreams.”
Flanagan was planning to go to barber school and open his own barbershop, his mother Jaime said Monday.
She called her adopted son “an amazing soul with a heart of gold” who received as much love as he gave — “the kind of love that would rescue a friend in the middle of the night, no questions asked; the kind that would protect friends and honor them,” she said.
Flanagan’s little sister Davyne — adopted with him in 2012 — called her big brother a role model, and a source of safety and trust. She said it was unfair that Shirilla may one day be paroled “while my brother will be gone forever.”
“I would like you to give Mackenzie the longest possible sentence. I have known her for three years and she’s always taken the easy way out,” she told the court on Monday.
Shirilla’s mother Natalie on Monday told the court she urged her daughter to go out for Halloween after the deadly crash, pushing her to afford herself some enjoyment in spite of the tragedy.
Natalie begged the judge for leniency and concurrent sentencing, claiming the crash was a “tragic accident” — one of which her daughter has no memory.
“I just want to say to the families that I’m broken, sad and lost,” she said.
Shirilla’s defense attorney James McDonnell of Cleveland tried to spare the woman a life sentence on the double murder charge, arguing during trial that the crash was reckless homicide, and that no one knows what happened inside that car.
Though prosecutors claimed Shirilla has shown no remorse, McDonnell said he disagreed.
“All I can tell you is from the moment I met this young lady here, she expressed sorrow,” he said. “As an officer of the court, I feel very confident saying she has expressed true remorse.”
Most of Shirilla’s charges were merged into her murder counts at sentencing. Because of the charges’ statutory sentences of 15 years to life, Judge Nancy Margaret Russo was only left to decide Monday whether they would be served separately or at the same time. Judge Russo chose the latter.
“It’s hard to fathom how someone could be concerned over their driving privileges having just caused the deaths of two people,” Judge Russo said.
Watch previous WJW News coverage in the player below:
In giving her guilty verdicts on all 12 counts, Judge Russo earlier this month referenced video evidence of the vehicle being driven by Shirilla speeding down the street, reaching up to 100 mph just before the crash.
“This is the type of evidence you can never un-see. You can’t forget the visuals or audio of this exhibit. … It is chilling and tragic,” she said earlier this month.
“The video clearly shows the purpose and intent of the defendant. She chose a course of death and destruction that day. … She morphed from a responsible driver to literal hell on wheels.”