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Boy Scout Troop 161 fills courtroom as driver pleads not guilty to upgraded charges

Dozens of Boy Scouts and their family members representing Troop 161 of Shoreham stood in solidarity inside a Central Islip courtroom Tuesday morning as the man charged with killing a 12-year-old boy in an alleged drunken driving crash was arraigned on a 16-count indictment.

Thomas Murphy, 59, of Holbrook pleaded not guilty to the upgraded charges, including the top charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, before Judge Fernando Camacho. Mr. Murphy had a blood alcohol content of 0.13, which is above the legal limit of .08, prosecutors said. That BAC was taken more than three hours after the Sept. 30 crash in Manorville, so prosecutors said that number is extrapolated to 0.19.

Mr. Murphy will remain free on the initial $500,000 bond he posted after his Oct. 1 arraignment on the first misdemeanor DWI charge.

More than 75 people filled the courtroom in support of the victims, including young scouts in their uniforms. The family of Andrew McMorris, the Wading River boy who died, led the group, all of whom were wearing red shirts or red ribbons.

District attorney Timothy Sini said that Thomas Lane, the 15-year-old Shoreham boy who suffered serious injuries, has since been released from the hospital and is home recovering.

“The defendant will be held accountable for his actions,” Mr. Sini said after the arraignment. “Nothing will bring Andrew back but we will seek justice to this case.”

District attorney Timothy Sini speaks outside the courtroom as the McMorris family stands to his left. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The McMorris family and dozens of other Troop members stood behind Mr. Sini as he spoke to reporters outside the courtroom. The family declined comment.

Mr. Sini added that his office is doing its best to resolve the case quickly and efficiently.

“We all need to pull together and be there for the McMorris family, be there for the Boy Scout community and for our part, we will pay justice,” he said.

Assistant district attorney Jacob DeLauter said during the court appearance that Mr. Murphy had been golfing that morning with associates at Swan Lake Golf Club in Manorville and he began drinking vodka as early as 9:30 a.m. The crash occurred just before 2 p.m. on David Terry Road as the Boy Scouts were walking northbound on the shoulder of the road after a hiking trip.

“They should’ve been out of harms way,” Mr. DeLauter said.

Thomas Murphy of Holbrook pleaded not guilty to a 16-count indictment. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The ADA said someone had offered to drive Mr. Murphy to his next location since he was intoxicated and he declined and locked the doors to his 2016 Mercedes. At least one witness observed him swerving out of his lane, Mr. DeLauter said.

Mr. Murphy’s attorney, Stephen McCarthy Jr. of Manhattan, read a statement on behalf of his client outside the courtroom following the arraignment. Mr. Murphy said it was his intention “to accept responsibility” so that the victim’s families would not endure a long court proceeding.

The statement read:

“A beautiful, wonderful child lost his life. I can never make that right.

To the parents and family of Andrew McMorris, I want to express my deepest sorrow, sympathy and prayers.

I am a parent. I know that nothing can fill the void left by the death of your beloved son. I am so very sorry.

To the wonderful, special boy who was so severely injured, Thomas Lane, his parents and family, I want also to express how very sorry I am.

My prayer is that Thomas make a full recovery. Again, I am so remorseful for his injuries.

To all of the other boys who were injured, I am very sorry.

I, along with my attorney, and my family, will review the indictment that has been given to me this morning.

I will also review the evidence that has been presented against me.

It is my ultimate intention to accept responsibility for my role in this tragic accident, so that perhaps, the healing for the victims, especially the McMorris family, will not be delayed by my court proceeding.”

Attorney Stephen McCarthy Jr. reads a statement outside the courtroom Tuesday. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The 16-count indictment features 10 felony charges. Mr. Murphy faces up to 25 years in prison for the aggravated vehicular homicide charge. Additional charges listed include second-degree vehicular manslaughter, aggravated DWI and second-degree assault, among others.

Police took a blood sample from Mr. Murphy, after obtaining a warrant, on the afternoon of the crash. He had refused a breath test at the scene, prosecutors said. The blood sample was taken at approximately 5:42 p.m., more than three hours after the crash, according to the criminal complaint.

The next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 27.

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