News Sections
Woman Who Killed Seven In Accident Wants New Trial
Updated October 29, 2014 10:42 AM | Filed under: Crime
 Print    Archive    RSS
The car driven by Judy Kirby sits in the yard of a body shop in Martinsville (Indy Star)

(MARTINSVILLE) - Judy Kirby; who was convicted of the deaths of seven people, including six children; is wanting a new trial.

On Thursday at 1 p.m. Kirby and her attorneys will ask Morgan County Superior Court III Judge Jane Craney to grant her a new trial.

Kirby, now 46, was found guilty of the murder of her three children- Jacob, 5, Joney, 9, Jordan, 12 -- and Kirby's nephew, 10-year-old Jeremy Young. The day of the accident was Jeremy's birthday. Also killed were 40-year-old Thomas Reel, his 13-year-old son Bradley and 14-year-old daughter Jesica. Richard Miller, a passenger in Reel's van, was injured and suffered permanent impairment of his back and right foot. Kirby was thrown from her car and suffered a closed head injury and various orthopedic injuries.

Kirby, of Greenwood, with four children, in her 1989 Pontiac Firebird, entered Ind. 67 on March 25, 2000, traveling in the wrong direction. Witnesses testified that Kirby made no attempt to stop or turn around after she ran southbound motorists off the highway.

Other drivers scattered, but after nearly two miles Kirby's car ran head-on into a van driven by Reel.

Seven wooden crosses mark the spot where they died on Ind. 67 at Wilbur Road, north of Martinsville.

On April 14, police arrested Kirby and charged her with seven counts of murder, four felony counts of child neglect causing serious bodily injury and one count of aggravated battery.

A Dearborn County jury found Kirby guilty after a 12-day trial. The jury heard from 114 witnesses and deliberated ten hours before rendering their verdict on May 10, 2001. On June 13, Judge Jane Spencer Craney sentenced Kirby to 215 years in prison - 65 years each for the three murders of the Reels, 55 years each for the four murders of the children, and 20 years for the aggravated battery of Miller. Judge Craney ordered the sentences for the murders of the Reels be served consecutively to each other and the sentence for the aggravated battery of Miller. The sentences for the murders of the children would be served concurrently to each other and to all other sentences.

Family members testified Kirby had been suffering from depression, particularly since the birth of a child five months before the accident. On March 2, she was admitted to a hospital for treatment, but Kirby chose to leave before the scheduled three-day stay was over. Her attorney, Jennifer Auger, of Franklin, told jurors Kirby suffered from an undiagnosed thyroid problem that caused her to lose touch with reality.

Other family member testified that Kirby feared being arrested on drug dealing charges. And her ex-husband testified Kirby was depressed over a failing relationship with her ex-husband's brother.

However, a medical expert testified that Kirby's strange behavior before the crash would not have been the result of a thyroid disorder.

In his closing argument May 9, defense attorney Tom Jones described Kirby as a very sick woman who was misdiagnosed and improperly treated. He argued that Kirby loved her children and would never have intentionally harmed them.

In his own summation, Prosecutor Terry Lacoli used a dramatic pause lasting 87 seconds to illustrate how much time Kirby had to pull over after turning the wrong way. The case went to the jury, which deliberated into the evening and the next morning before coming to a verdict of murder on all seven counts.

Events on the day of the crash:

Investigators, through interviews with family members and others who encountered Judy Kirby on March 25, 2000, pieced together her activities leading to the wreck on Ind. 67 that killed seven people:

11:30 a.m. -- Kirby, accompanied by nephew Jeremy Young, celebrating his 10th birthday, leaves her Southside Indianapolis home for her sister's home in Acton to pick up children Joney Kirby, 9, Jacob Kirby, 5, and Jordan Kirby, 12.

Noon -- Arrives at the home of sister Jeannetta Scott. Leaves about 2 p.m. with all four children. Scott follows as they drive to Toys R Us in Greenwood to buy a present for Jeremy's birthday.

2:30 p.m. -- Scott loses track of Kirby when Kirby stops in traffic on Southport Road. Scott turns around to go back, thinking Kirby has car trouble, but is unable to find her.

3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. -- A man working in his yard on Ralston Road, west of Mann Road, sees Kirby when she stops her car in front of his house. He reports that Kirby stared at him for a few minutes, then left.

3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. -- Two women see Kirby's car stop in traffic at High School and Thompson roads. They approach her, ask if there is a problem and loan Kirby a cell phone. Kirby drives off and returns about two minutes later with the phone. She leaves, driving on High School Road toward Kentucky Avenue.

4 p.m. -- Kirby shows up at a baby shower in the clubhouse at Valley Brook Mobile Home Park on High School Road just west of Kentucky Avenue. Kirby and the children enter the clubhouse, where no one knows her. Witnesses say Kirby stated, "I need help." When asked what type of help, she replied, "I need a birthday party." People at the shower think Kirby might be looking for a gathering at the park's other clubhouse and give directions to that site.

4:10 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. -- No reported sightings as Kirby drives 21.5 miles to Martinsville.

4:45 p.m. -- Kirby arrives at a Speedway gas station on the edge of Martinsville. Store security video shows Kirby and four children enter the station, pay for $3 in gasoline and buy candy bars. An attendant reports that Kirby, who sits in the car for several minutes before going inside to pay, is unable to activate the gas pump, and he assists her.

4:55 p.m. -- Witnesses begin reporting a white car, which entered southbound lanes of Ind. 67 at the exit ramp on Pumpkinvine Hill Road, driving the wrong way on the highway. The car is reported traveling at a high speed, with estimates varying between 55 mph and 100 mph. One witness describes seeing "a small boy in the front seat who looked to be on his knees, his hands outstretched to the dash as if he was holding on, and the driver's blond hair was blowing in the wind." Others report Kirby does not appear to slow or take evasive action as she meets oncoming vehicles.

4:57 p.m. -- Kirby's car collides head-on with a van driven by Thomas Reel, 40, of Martinsville. The collision, described by witnesses as a "horrific, spectacular explosion," kills all four children riding with Kirby. Also killed are Reel and two of his children, Bradley Reel, 13, and Jesica Reel, 14. Kirby and another passenger in the Reel van, Richard Miller, 13, are taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

« Previous Article
Next Article »

 Print    Archive    RSS

Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to

Advertise with 1340 AM WBIW
Find more about Weather in Bedford, IN
Advertise with 1340 AM WBIW

1340 AM WBIW, Bedford's Place To Talk. Serving Lawrence and surrounding counties since 1948!

© 2019 Ad-Venture Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved. and Listen Live Powered by HPC

Advertise  |  Careers  |  Contests  |  About  |  Feedback  |  Public File