Long Island man who ran down Boy Scout while drunk found guilty of all charges

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019
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Stacey Sager reports on the guilty verdict in the death of 12-year-old Boy Scout Andrew McMorris.

RIVERHEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- The man who drove his car into a group of Boy Scouts, killing one, on Long Island last year was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter Wednesday.

The jurors got the case Tuesday afternoon and deliberated a little over a day before convicting Thomas Murphy on all counts.

Murphy drove off the road and hit Andrew McMorris while the 12-year-old hiked in Suffolk County in September of 2018, and prosecutors said in closing arguments that he "recklessly and selfishly" got behind the wheel of his SUV after pounding vodka on a golf course and plowed into the group.

Murphy faces 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

"This was a completely unnecessary process for us to have to go through, a million times worse," mom Alisa McMorris said.

The process was made that much more difficult because Murphy passed up a plea agreement, which guaranteed the painful trial.

"He backed out," Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. "That's the kind of person he is."

His defense unsuccessfully attempted to argue that the Boy Scouts weren't supervised properly that day and were not walking on the side of the road when Murphy swerved into them. Defense attorney Steven Politi vowed to appeal the verdict, potentially dragging on the family's agony longer.

"This is the very beginning," Politi said. "And we'll be appealing all of them."

The family says they are haunted by Murphy's lack of accountability and what became a quest for justice.

"God bless the DA's office," dad John McMorris said. "The truth did prevail today."

The defense claimed prosecutors failed to prove Murphy was legally intoxicated at the time of the crash, particularly after the Suffolk County judge dropped four charges of the 16-count indictment.

Judge Fernando Camacho granted the defense's application to drop the four charges, citing a lack of evidence that Murphy's blood alcohol content was at 0.18%, which was the threshold needed for the those charges.

The four charges -- aggravated vehicular homicide, first-degree vehicular manslaughter, first-degree vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated -- require a blood alcohol content above .18, which were n doubt because of previously unknown notes by the county's toxicologist that suggested Murphy's blood alcohol level may have been below that.

The only member of the golfing foursome who had not been drinking offered to drive the defendant's SUV because he appeared intoxicated, Ahern said. Witnesses said he appeared unsteady on his feet and slurred his words.

Thomas refused a breathalyzer test, and blood tests four hours later showed his BAC to be .13. That is still well above the legal limit of .08, but Judge Camacho told the attorneys that the charges in question were "not legally sustainable."


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