Woman, 23, charged in Facebook-feud fatal crash

Published July 26, 2010

PONTIAC, Mich. – A Facebook feud between two women who claimed to love the same prison inmate led to a high-speed chase and a crash that critically injured one of the rivals, killed her friend and left the second rival facing murder charges.

Torrie Emery was arraigned Friday in Pontiac's 50th District Court on multiple felonies, as friends of the dead woman were holding a car wash to pay for her funeral.

"It's unbelievable," said Pontiac police Chief Valard S. Gross told The Associated Press as he described the escalating dispute that ended with Wednesday's deadly crash. "It's just crazy."

According to Gross, Emery, 23, and Danielle Booth, 20, had been feuding for some time, leading to an earlier police complaint. According to Emery's family, the dispute was over a 23-year-old man now serving time in a Michigan prison.

On Wednesday, Emery was driving when she saw Booth in the passenger seat of a car driven by Alesha Abernathy and started chasing her, Gross said. Emery had her 3-year-old daughter in the car with her.

Police Det. Paul McDougal, who was in an unmarked squad car, saw both vehicles rush by at speeds approaching 100 mph, Gross said. Before McDougal could reach them — and while a panicked Booth was on the phone with a police dispatcher — Abernathy ran a red light and plowed into a dump truck, knocking it onto its side but not injuring the truck's driver.

The crash killed Abernathy and critically injured Booth, who was in the intensive care unit Friday at POH Regional Medical Center in Pontiac. Emery and her daughter weren't hurt.

"How can you get that angry or that jealous, really, that you jeopardize the life of your 3-year-old?" Gross asked. "One person's stupidity, and look at the repercussions. It's just a ripple effect."

Emery appeared on video at her arraignment Friday on charges of second-degree murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and child abuse. She indicated she would look for a lawyer.

Judge Preston Thomas ordered her jailed without bond and set her preliminary examination for next Thursday.

"We apologize to the family about what happened," Emery's aunt, Tamika White, said after the hearing. "This Facebook stuff is just a mess. They're going on Facebook about a guy that neither one have — that's in the penitentiary."

"My sister didn't mean to kill anybody," said Traynea Emery, 19.

Across town in the parking lot of Pete's Coney Island restaurant, a group of Abernathy's friends were holding a car wash to raise money for the funeral they said Abernathy's family couldn't afford.

"She was the center of attention," said Brittany Carriti, 22, of Pontiac, a former classmate from Manley Alternative High School in Waterford. She and her friends had raised several hundred dollars by midday.

Abernathy was "always the one for whom the party started," said another ex-classmate, Chandra Tiernan, 23, of Waterford.

While Abernathy knew about the dispute between Booth and Emery, she wasn't involved in it, Tiernan said.

"She died over someone else's problem," Tiernan said.

(This version CORRECTS 5th paragraph to reflect that Emery, not Gross, had her child in the car with her.)

Written by DAVID N. GOODMAN, Associated Press Writer

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