RIVERHEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- A Long Island man who killed a Boy Scout while driving drunk was sentenced the maximum of 8 1/3 to 25 years Wednesday after the judge ruled against granting him a new trial amid claims of juror misconduct.
Thomas Murphy was convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter in December for hitting and killing 12-year-old Andrew McMorris while the boy was hiking with his troop in Manorville exactly two years ago on September 30, 2018.
"Mr. Murphy, you have caused tremendous destruction," Judge Fernando Camacho said.
Attorneys for the victim's family spoke out after the sentencing decision:
"There is no celebration tonight for a heartbroken McMorris family - nothing will bring Andrew back. We will continue to fight for justice in the civil case, where he will again have to answer for his negligent and reckless decisions made two years ago today." Deanne Caputo, Attorney for the McMorris Family.
"The families of Suffolk County can rest easier tonight because their children are safer since Thomas Murphy is in jail," said Chris McGrath, Attorney for the McMorris Family.
Sentencing was previously scheduled for late August but was delayed after the allegations of misconduct and two new witnesses who had apparently come forward, leaving the McMorris family outraged.
Judge Camacho went even further in denying the new trial, accusing Murphy's attorney, Steven Politi, of trying to seek out juror misconduct by making contact with jurors.
"It's honestly awful that it's been going on for two years," friend Torre Cintorino said. "In my opinion, he should've been locked up two years ago. He's been letting this family suffer for way too long."
Politi tried to delay sentencing yet again, saying he needed more days to prepare, but the judge refused, saying he informed both parties that sentencing would likely follow his ruling should he decide to uphold the verdict.
The judge read 100 character letters submitted on Murphy's behalf, followed by the reading of nine victim impact statements.
Dad John McMorris talked about having nightmares and said he helped nurses put his son's body in a bag at the hospital.
"We try to figure out how to move forward each day, each day is a struggle," he said. "He did not deserve what happened to him."
Sister Arianna McMorris accused Murphy of dragging her brother's legacy through a "pointless trial."
"We spent two years essentially arguing what my brother's life was worth," she said.
Murphy, who declined a plea agreement and forced what the family called a painful and unnecessary trial, faces 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
The family pushed for the longest sentence In order to serve as deterrent to other people who may think about drinking and driving.
"We didn't need to go to trial," John McMorris said. "This was cruel and unusual to put us through. He threw us back through hell again."
Mom Alisa McMorris recounted minute by minute the day her son died, describing putting her head on his chest to make sure he wasn't breathing. Judge Camacho cried during her statement.
She said she is still haunted by thinking about what Andrew felt when he was killed.
"These thoughts will haunt me for the rest of my life," she said.
Andrew's spinal cord was severed in the accident, and though the family wanted to donate his organs, the injuries were too severe.
Murphy still maintains his innocence, Politi said, saying he wasn't drunk and that it was an accident.
"My client cries every single day about being involved in this accident," Politi said.
Prosecutors said in closing arguments that Murphy "recklessly and selfishly" got behind the wheel of his SUV after pounding vodka on a golf course and plowed into the group.
Murphy's 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.
Thomas refused a breathalyzer test, and blood tests four hours later showed his BAC to be .13.
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