CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An accused drunk driver who crashed into a group of Boy Scouts, killing one, will stand trial on Long Island.
Thomas Murphy rejected a plea deal in the case Thursday.
Prosecutors said his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he plowed into a group of Scouts walking in Manorville last September, killing 12-year-old Andrew McMorris. Four other teens were also injured.
“He was an honorable, wonderful little boy and I have been without him for 215 days,” mother Alisa McMorris said. “This is the road that has been chosen for us and we’re ready to walk it.”
Murphy, 60, allegedly declined a ride following a day of golfing and drinking vodka with friends.
“What happened on Sept. 30 was 100 percent avoidable,” father John McMorris said. “That man drank all day, he got into his vehicle and crashed into five boys doing a hike.”
There were tears of disappointment Thursday from the hundreds of Boy Scouts and families proudly in uniform, clutching photos of Andrew and taught to take responsibility, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
“That’s what’s confusing to the children is that [Murphy] says he is going to step up and do something and yet he doesn’t,” said Kelly Toole, one of the seventh grader’s teachers.
“He needs to step up and take responsibility for what he has done. I mean, he had every opportunity not to get in that car that day,” teacher Tracy O’Lear added.
Last month, Judge Fernando Camacho issued a stern warning to Murphy.
“I was told you were seriously considering a plea to spare the family pain and suffering of a trial. I believed you. I’m out of patience. It appears this is nothing more than an attempt on your part to delay the conclusion of this case. I will not have it. There will be no more delays,” he told Murphy.
Murphy has previously apologized to the teen’s family, but his attorney left court Thursday with no explanation why Murphy is opting for a trial by jury where he faces eight to 25 years in prison on vehicular homicide charges. Prosecutors said the judge would have given him credit for pleading guilty with an up to 21-year sentence.
Sources told Gusoff that Murphy may challenge evidence that he swerved out of his lane into the pack of boys.
“When all of this is over I still don’t get my baby back. And he gets to go home. Even after he serves his time he gets to go home to his family and my baby doesn’t,” Alisa McMorris said.
Pretrial hearings in this case will begin on June 4. Friends, family and a very large scouting family said they will attend in force throughout.