(RIVERHEAD, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the trial conviction of a Holbrook man for driving drunk and killing 12-year-old Boy Scout Andrew McMorris, of Wading River, in a motor vehicle crash on Sept. 30, 2018.
Thomas Murphy, 60, was convicted by a jury today of two counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, a B felony; Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a C felony; Assault in the Second Degree, a D violent felony; Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a D felony; two counts of Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree, an E felony; Driving While Intoxicated, an unclassified misdemeanor; two counts of Assault in the Third Degree, an A misdemeanor; Reckless Driving, an unclassified misdemeanor; and Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, an A misdemeanor.
“Thomas Murphy, in the ultimate act of selfishness, got intoxicated and made the decision – despite his friend’s efforts to stop him – to drive drunk. Because of that decision, he killed Andrew and injured several others,” District Attorney Sini said. “Mr. Murphy indicated that he would accept responsibility, plead guilty, and save the families the trauma of going through a trial, but at the last moment, he backed out. That’s the type of person he is: repeatedly putting his own interests above others. He exercised his right to a trial by jury, and that jury has spoken. He is guilty of all counts.
“I made it clear from the outset that my Office would hold him responsible, that we would offer no plea deal and that we will be seeking the maximum sentence. Nothing will bring Andrew back, but justice today – I hope – will allow the McMorris family and all of the families affected to close this chapter and to start the long journey of healing.”
“This case is a tragic reminder of the impact that drinking and driving can have on a family and community,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “I applaud the efforts of all the officers and detectives involved in this arrest as well as the prosecution team charged with taking it before the jury. While nothing will ever bring their son back, it is my hope that this verdict brings a sense of justice served for Andrew’s family.”
On Sept. 30, 2018, shortly before 2 p.m., Murphy was leaving Swan Lake Golf Club to drive home after drinking alcohol since approximately 9 a.m. An investigation revealed that Murphy was approached by a friend in the parking lot who offered to drive Murphy home due to his intoxicated state, but he refused.
Murphy was driving southbound on David Terry Road when his white Mercedes SUV veered toward a group of 12 Boys Scouts and six Scout leaders from Troop 161 who were walking northbound on the shoulder of the roadway.
Murphy struck the group with his vehicle, causing serious physical injury to Thomas Lane, of Shoreham, and causing injury to Denis Lane, of Shoreham, and Kaden Lynch, of Calverton. McMorris, who was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center and then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition following the crash, succumbed to his injuries on October 1.
Murphy was arrested immediately following the crash by Suffolk County Police Seventh Precinct officers, who observed that Murphy had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, had slurred speech, had watery, bloodshot and glassy eyes, and was unsteady on his feet. Murphy refused a roadside breath test and was transported to the Seventh Precinct, where he refused to submit to a chemical test of his blood.
The District Attorney’s Office secured a warrant for a chemical test of Murphy’s blood that revealed a blood alcohol content level of 0.13 percent approximately four hours after the crash occurred.
Opening statements in the trial occurred on Nov. 12. The jury deliberated for approximately one day before returning a verdict of guilty on all counts.
“I want to thank the community, the Boy Scouts of America, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and all of the great residents of Suffolk County who knew that justice ultimately would be served in this case and who provided support to the families – the McMorris family, the Lane family, the Lynch family and all of the families whose lives were forever changed because of the selfish actions of this defendant,” District Attorney Sini said. “I also want to thank the prosecutors, the Suffolk County Police Department, and everyone who assisted in this prosecution for their tremendous hard work and for doing a phenomenal job in seeking justice for Andrew.”
Murphy is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 21, 2020. He faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Bureau Chief Brendan Ahern and Assistant District Attorneys Jacob Delauter and Raymond Varuolo, of the Vehicular Crime Bureau, and Timothy Finnerty, of the Appeals & Training Bureau, with assistance from the Vehicular Crime Bureau team.