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Decision looms on whether driver in fatal crash to accept plea deal

During a brief court appearance in Central Islip Monday, the case against Thomas Murphy, the Holbrook man accused of a deadly drunk driving crash that left 12-year-old Andrew McMorris dead last fall, was adjourned once more.

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho said discussions are continuing on whether to resolve the case by plea deal or trial.

“I think we are close to making that decision,” he said, which could come during the next court appearance in March.

Judge Camacho indicated that a lengthy trial could be “painful” for the family.

Joining his family in the courtroom were Boy Scouts from Troop 161, who had been hiking along David Terry Road in Manorville when the crash occurred Sept. 30. Mr. Murphy, 60, was also responsible for injuring four other scouts.

Outside court, dozens more wore red and clutched photos of Andrew to show their support for the family.

Following the conference between the defense attorney and prosecutors, the McMorris family, friends and other Scouts in uniform left the court complex without comment.

After the court conference, Mr. Murphy’s attorney, Stephen McCarthy Jr. of Manhattan, read a statement as his client stood by his side.

“This is a tragedy that I can never make right,” Mr. McCarthy said, adding that his client has received counseling and service through his church. “It remains my ultimate intent to accept responsibility,” he continued.

Mr. Murphy had been arraigned on a 16-count indictment, including aggravated vehicular homicide, which carries a maximum penalty of 8 and 1/3 to 25 years in prison. Other charges include second-degree vehicular manslaughter, aggravated DWI and second-degree assault, among others.

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

The next court date is scheduled for March 25.

Top photo caption: Thomas Murphy, inside Judge Fernando Camacho’s Courtroom at First District in Central Islip Monday. (Credit: James Carbone/Newsday)

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