Attorney Withdraws from Trial, Delaying Second Trial for Woman Involved in Fatal Crash

Sanilac County, MI – Theresa Gafken’s second trial has been further postponed as her defense attorney seeks to withdraw from the case. Patrick Politano, who began representing Gafken in September, has stated his inability to continue as her defense attorney due to taking on a new job as an attorney for Sanilac County. In his motion to withdraw, Politano has designated defense attorney Sharon Parrish to take over Gafken’s defense. As a result, Gafken’s trial has been rescheduled from March 12 to May 14, allowing Parrish enough time to familiarize herself with the case.

The incident that led to Gafken’s arrest occurred on April 11, 2018, when she allegedly collided with another vehicle at the intersection of 24th Street and Dove Road in Port Huron, resulting in the death of 48-year-old Kristine Donahue from Chesterfield Township. Reportedly, Gafken was attempting to evade the police at a speed of 100 mph at the time of the crash. In October 2018, Gafken was found guilty by a jury, but her conviction was overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision. The court ruled that Gafken should have been allowed to present evidence that a passenger in her car had forced her to flee at gunpoint.

St. Clair County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Smith Deegan has also filed a motion to charge Gafken with first-degree fleeing and eluding, arguing that the evidence presented during Gafken’s preliminary examination to establish probable cause for her second-degree murder charge overlaps with what would be necessary for the new felony charge. If convicted of second-degree murder, Gafken could face life imprisonment. Additionally, she has been charged with two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing injury, each of which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

As Theresa Gafken’s second trial is delayed once again, her defense attorney withdraws from the case, necessitating a new attorney to take over. The trial has been rescheduled to give the new attorney time to familiarize herself with the case. Gafken stands accused of causing a fatal crash while attempting to flee from the police at high speed. Prosecutors are now seeking to add a first-degree fleeing and eluding charge. If convicted, Gafken could face life imprisonment for second-degree murder and is also charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing injury.