RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — A Long Island man “recklessly and selfishly” got behind the wheel of his SUV after pounding vodka on a golf course and plowed into a group of hiking Boy Scouts, killing a 12-year-old, a prosecutor said during closing arguments in the trial.
The defense countered that prosecutors failed to prove that Thomas Murphy was legally intoxicated at the time of the September 2018 crash that killed Andrew McMorris of Wading River, New York.
The arguments were delivered Monday in a standing-room-only courtroom in Riverhead, New York, Newsday reported.
“Mr. Murphy’s conduct turned a dream day for these boys and their fathers into a nightmare,” Assistant District Attorney Brendan Ahern, told the jury of seven men and five women.
Andrew was killed and three other scouts were injured as they walked along the shoulder of a Manorville road.
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.
“But Murphy decided to gamble,” Ahern said. “He gambled with his life and lives of Troop 161. He selfishly rolled the dice and the children lost.”
Murphy refused to take a Breathalyzer test at the crash scene. The defense disputed the findings of a blood alcohol test taken about four hours later. Witnesses said he appeared unsteady on his feet and slurred his words.
“There are so many holes in their version of the truth,” said defense attorney Steven Politi. “When you have two stories about what happened you have reasonable doubt.”
The defense also contended that the Scouts were listening to music on earbuds while hiking.
Politi urged jurors to disregard their emotions and focus only on the facts of the case. “Don’t compound that awful tragedy with another tragedy,” he said.
Murphy has pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, assault and driving while intoxicated. If convicted of the top count he faces eight to 25 years in prison.
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