RIVERHEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- A Suffolk County judge on Monday dropped four charges of the 16-count indictment against a man accused of driving drunk and killing a Boy Scout on Long Island last year.
Andrew McMorris, 12, was hiking with his Boy Scout troop in Manorville when prosecutors say Thomas Murphy was drunk and drove off the road into the group in September 2018.
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 defense then began their case, calling a lab expert to refute claims that Murphy was intoxicated.
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 is now in doubt because of previously unknown notes by the county's toxicologist that suggested Murphy's blood alcohol level may have been below that.
"I hope the jury's been listening as I think they have, and I hope they understand that the People have failed to meet their burden miserably," defense attorney Steven Politi said. "This is a very, very sad, tragic event, and my heart goes out to the McMorrises and all the people that were involved, but unfortunately, a criminal prosecution was not appropriate in this case."
Thomas allegedly 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 last week that the charges in question were "not legally sustainable."
Even with the charges dropped, however, the sentencing guidelines do not change. Murphy still faces 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison on the other 12 charges, which include the other top counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and second-degree manslaughter, as well as second and third-degree assault, second-degree vehicular assault and one count of driving while intoxicated.
Still, the family said it feels like insult added to injury.
"Four hours after the crash, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know what went on before that," mom Alisa McMorris said. "We have his own friends saying that he went off the road. His own friends. And all I think about is Christmas is coming."
* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Long Island judge drops 4 counts against man accused in Boy Scout's death