CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Emotions ran high in a Suffolk County courthouse Tuesday during a pretrial hearing in the alleged drunk-driving death of a Boy Scout last year.
The judge ruled that admissions by the driver at the crash scene will be admissible in his upcoming trial, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
There was heartache for the parents of Andrew McMorris as they listened in court to the alleged admissions of driver Thomas Murphy. The first police officers on the scene testified Murphy smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet, and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy and his speech was slurred.
He first admitted to one drink, then to three, before allegedly driving into a pack of Boy Scouts.
“I’m not going to lie, I cried. It’s painful to relive it,” mother Alisa McMorris said. “All that goes through my mind right now is that little boy is not here anymore.”
“He had an opportunity that day to go with one of his friends. What happened that day didn’t have to happen. It was 100 percent avoidable. My son should still be alive today,” father John McMorris said.
Murphy allegedly asked cops a dozen times, “Is the young man okay?” adding, “I’ve driven that road a million times. I never expected anyone to be walking there.”
The judge ruled his statements admissible, along with his repeated refusals of a breath or blood test, which prosecutors could use to suggest a consciousness of guilt.
Murphy’s attorney called into question if he was drunk, asking officers if they knew Murphy had knee surgery and couldn’t maintain his balance.
“He just came off a golf course. Come on, how bad could his knees be?” said William Schaefer, Andrew McMorris’ grandfather.
“This child will never come back. [Murphy] just seems to be milking the system for more time and more time with his family and we’ll never see Andrew again,” friend Christine Zukowski said.
More than 100 friends, relatives and Boy Scouts were in court. The McMorris family said they will attend the trial with supporters en masse.
“He needs to b held accountable for his crime. He murdered a child,” Alisa McMorris said.
Since so many witnesses in the trial will be Boy Scouts, the judge set the trial date for Sept. 18, when they return from summer trips, just shy of the one-year anniversary of Andrew’s death.
Murphy is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, assault, driving while intoxicated and faces 8⅓ to 25 years in prison.