Mother not guilty by insanity in death of twins
Written by PETER KUEBECK, Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:42
A woman facing vehicular homicide charges in the death of her two infant twins was found not guilty on all counts by reason of insanity at a hearing Wednesday.
Defense attorney Scott Hicks talks with prosecuting attorney Gwen Howe-Gebers while defendant Lori Massingill looks on. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Lori Massingill, 39, Ida, Michigan, appeared in the courtroom of Wood County Judge Alan Mayberry.
Information presented at the hearing painted a picture of a woman suffering from long-term mental illness who behaved in an erratic and confused manner.
Massingill was indicted last year on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of endangering children stemming from a Nov. 12, 2013, crash.
The incident occurred on Fostoria Road, just south of Ohio 163 in Troy Township, on the extreme eastern border of Wood County.
The Bowling Green Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported Massingill was northbound on Fostoria Road at a high rate of speed when her vehicle struck a railroad crossing and went airborne. It then traveled off the right side of the roadway, re-entered the roadway, and drove off the left side, striking a ditch and rotating twice.
Massingill's 7-week-old twins were in the vehicle at the time.
The female twin, Presley, was pronounced dead at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Toledo, shortly after the crash. The male twin, Parker, was taken to University of Michigan Children's Hospital, and died days later.
Alcohol was not found to be a factor in the crash.
State Trooper Charles Grizzard, called to testify by Prosecuting Attorney Gwen Howe-Gebers, responded to the scene.
At the time of his arrival, Massingill had been handcuffed by police because "she had become, at the time, somewhat combative."
Upon initially questioning Massingill, Grizzard said she told him "God made me do it."
Later, at St. Vincent's, Grizzard spoke to Massingill again. She indicated she had driven from Michigan to find the father of the children, but didn't know where he lived and had gotten lost. When told she had driven into Wood County, Ohio, "there was no response at all," said Grizzard.
Massingill reportedly said that while driving she had flashbacks from a previous traffic crash she had been involved in years before "and everything started to spin."
When informed at the hospital of Presley's death "there was no real emotion at the time," said Grizzard. "Her statement was 'OK,'" which he ascribed to "a little bit of shock."
Grizzard said Massingill's mood changed subsequently, becoming "a little bit rude, a little bit combative."
She said "I don't want to see it. Why would I want to hold a dead baby?"
Grizzard said that minutes later Massingill laughed at something said by one of the nurses.
In the vehicle, Grizzard said that old prescriptions were found, including some for medication to treat bipolar disorder. Some of the prescriptions had not been filled or were two to three years old.
Also testifying was Lt. Chris Kinn, crash reconstruction commander for the State Patrol.
Kinn said the seat belts for the child seats in the back seat of Massingill's vehicle "had too much slack" and "those seats were free to move."
"They were not installed per the manufacturer's recommendations and in a manner that would help the children if an accident occurred."
He said that, according to information from the vehicle's "black box," five seconds prior to the crash, Massingill was driving at 97 miles per hour, and vaulted the railroad tracks at 88 miles per hour seconds later. The speed limit on such a roadway by law is 55 miles per hour.
Kinn additionally attended the autopsy of Presley, and indicated the child's body exhibited "severe diaper rash" and had not been changed for an extended period of time. Additionally, the child had an empty stomach, and had not apparently been fed in the 10 to 12 hours prior to her death.
The cause of death was determined to be "cranial-cerebral injuries" and "improperly restrained infant passenger in single motor vehicle accident."
Massingill's attorney, J. Scott Hicks, did not call any witnesses, but entered two reports from the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Toledo into the record.
Mayberry, before pronouncing his decision, noted Massingill had a history of several psychiatric hospitalizations, and had been on a prescription for the drug Lithium for 13 years.
He also noted a finding in one of the CDTC reports that Massingill at the time was suffering from an acute psychotic mental illness at the time of the incident.
She "was not capable of knowing the wrongness of her acts," the report said.
Mayberry found her not guilty by reason of insanity on all counts.
Massingill, dressed in a blue county-issued jail uniform with her hair in a knot on top of her head, did not appear to react when Mayberry's decision was announced, and seemed to keep her head bowed when photographs of the crash scene were projected onto a screen during testimony.
A further hearing to determine an appropriate treatment environment for Massingill is scheduled for June 26 at 1 p.m.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 10:50