The father of the Ohio teen who was killed when his doped-up girlfriend smashed her car into a building at 100 miles per hour said he doesn’t want to see his son’s killer spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Frank Russo, 61, said his son Dominic’s death wouldn’t be meaningfully avenged by a life sentence ruling for 19-year-old Mackenzie Shirilla, who was convicted of murder Monday after prosecutors said she deliberately plowed her car into the brick warehouse.
“It’s horrible for everybody. Yeah, I lost my son, it’s harder on our family, but I don’t want the rest of her life ruined too, it isn’t going to make me feel any better,” the grieving father told NBC News.
“The whole thing’s just a shame.”
Shirilla is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of four counts of murder in the July 2022 crash that killed her boyfriend, Dominic, and his friend Davion Flanagan, 19.
She faces life in prison with no opportunity for parole for 15 years.
Though Russo is heartbroken over the loss of his “go-getter” son, he said Shirilla has already suffered enough without being thrown in jail.
“She’s just a little kid. She f–ked up. She did a damn stupid thing but now her parents are destroyed, her family’s destroyed too,” Russo said, adding that he’d rather see her get professional help than be locked up.
“I wish there was a way she could get some kind of help, some kind of treatment.”
Despite having a soft spot for his son’s girlfriend and killer, Russo said he doesn’t believe Shirilla’s defense claims that she doesn’t remember the deadly crash.
The court was shown texts Shirilla sent Dominic’s mother saying she wanted to undergo hypnosis to recall the fateful moment she slammed on the gas and barreled into the warehouse — shortly after the trio smoked pot together.
Shirilla’s mom testified that her daughter had been diagnosed with a disorder that causes her to pass out if her sodium and hydration levels are too low, which could have been to blame for the memory lapse and failed attempts to stop the speeding car.
“I wish she would just tell us what exactly happened and I’d be willing to reduce the sentence,” Russo said.
Russo’s daughter, Christina, however, has less sympathy for her brother’s murderer.
She told the outlet she felt conflicted seeing the girl her brother loved be convicted, but said that “justice was served.”
“When you do something intentionally you have to pay for your actions, but at the same time … it’s even more terrible now that it’s in stone, that my little brother, his life was stolen, was taken intentionally,” Christina said.
Shirilla sobbed in court as a judge handed down a guilty verdict of four counts of felonious assault, two of aggravated vehicular homicide, one of drug possession and one of possessing criminal tools, in addition to four counts of murder.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Nancy Margaret Russo described the teenage killer as “literal hell on wheels” who slammed on the gas in a deliberate act of murder.
Prosecutors said Shirilla mapped out the route and planned for a time when there would be few witnesses to kill Dominic because their months-long fling fizzled out.
“She had a mission, and she executed it with precision,” the judge said.