RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The courtroom was packed Thursday to hear heartwrenching testimony in the drunk driving trial of the man who hit and killed a Boy Scout last year.
The child’s father took the stand with details of the moment the boys were struck and then what he heard the driver say.
John McMorris wore red – the Boy Scout color – the color his son Andrew wore the last day of his life. Seeing that shirt again, this time in evidence, triggered tears from the assistant scout master, who walked just steps behind his son the day he was struck and killed.
“I can do this,” he told the judge.
He recalled hearing “thumps” and then seeing “things flying, a boy on the ground.”
Where was driver Thomas Murphy?
“As I’m taking care of my son, dying before me, I heard him say ‘Oh my God, oh my God. Are they OK? They’re going to be OK,” McMorris said.
“No, they’re not going to be OK!” he yelled back at the driver.
McMorris said Murphy “sounded like he had mush mouth” and was “slurring speech.”
It was the first time Alisa McMorris has heard what her husband saw the day they lost their son.
“He hasn’t been able to talk about it. This is the first time I heard his whole story, and it’s heartbreaking to make him go through that,” she said.
John McMorris also described his son’s intense focus. At 12 years old, he’d actually piloted a small plane, was an accomplished musician.
On that fateful hike, he testified never was anyone walking in the road.
The defense claims the Scouts wandered out of the shoulder, that Murphy was not drunk, despite drinking on the golf course and a .13 blood alcohol reading hours later.
“My client simply could not have consumed enough alcohol at 350 pounds to ever get a .13,” said defense attorney Steven Politi.
“So it’s inaccurate, you’re saying,” said CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
“Absolutely,” Politi said.
Prosecutors usually present a case to a jury in chronological order. In this case, they’ve ended with one of the first at the scene, the testimony of John McMorris. It was so gripping and emotional, court officers were handing out tissues to tearful jurors, Gusoff reported.
“I think any reasonable person can see what they were trying to do,” Politi said.
“Which is?” Gusoff asked.
“Garner sympathy from the jury as as close as it is to making their verdict.”
The defense asked the jury to decide the case on evidence, not emotion.
The prosecution calls it glaring evidence that Murphy plowed into conspicuous, observable pedestrians after being warned he was too drunk to drive.
The first defense witness is set to testify Monday, and closing arguments are expected this time next week.