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Driver in fatal crash asks for adjournment; judge ‘out of patience’

Wearing red to honor Andrew McMorris, a Wading River scout who was killed by an alleged drunk driver last fall, nearly 100 friends and family members filled an arraignment room in Central Islip Tuesday for what they believed would be the end of a six-month ordeal. 

Instead, Thomas Murphy, 60, the Holbrook man charged in the death, asked for another adjournment before Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho.

At a court appearance Jan. 28, Judge Camacho seemed optimistic that the case would soon end in a plea deal. This time, he had harsh words for the defendant.

“I was told you were seriously considering [a plea deal],” Judge Camacho said, addressing Mr. Murphy in his courtroom. “I believed you. I’m out of patience.”

Judge Camacho has urged Mr. Murphy to accept a plea deal — the details of which have not been disclosed — to spare Andrew’s family from additional pain and suffering by recounting the events of Sept. 30 at trial.

Thomas Murphy inside First District Court in Central Islip Tuesday. (Credit: James Carbone/Newsday)

During the brief appearance, Judge Camacho indicated that this would be the final adjournment granted in this case. At the next appearance May 2, Mr. Murphy must indicate whether or not he will accept the plea deal. If not, the case will be tried in June, Judge Camacho said.

“[This case] will have a conclusion one way or another,” he said.

Mr. Murphy and his wife and left the courtroom as his attorney paused to give a statement on behalf of his client.

“I ask respectfully that those who come to court allow myself and my family the time to fully evaluate my case and my role in this tragic accident,” attorney Steven McCarthy Jr. said in reading the statement. He declined further comment.

Friends, family and fellow Boy Scouts once again left dejected.

“What this man is doing is not honorable. We need justice,” said Andrew’s mom, Alisa McMorris, as she stood outside of the courtroom with her husband, John, and their daughter, Arianna, by her side. “We’re willing to accept it and move on with our lives. [Mr. Murphy] deserves his earthly consequences for what he did to my child and what he did to all of the Scouts.”

Andrew, who would have turned 13 Saturday, was killed Sept. 30 while on a hike with fellow scouts in Manorville. Four other boys were injured in the crash. Mr. Murphy is facing a top charge of aggravated vehicular homicide.

The McMorris family said they were willing to do whatever it takes to deliver justice, including a trial.

“We’re not going to give up without a fight,” Mr. McMorris said. “We’re going to forge on for not only ourselves and Andrew, but Troop 161, the Shoreham-Wading River community and the multiple communities throughout Long Island and the country who love Andrew and love Troop 161.”

Asked whether there was a sentence of time that they would accept or not accept, Ms. McMorris spoke earnestly.

“My son was given a life sentence,” she said. “This is a violent crime that has happened to the [Boy Scouts] and to my child. I expect to see justice.”

Caption: Andrew McMorris’ parents and sister outside the courtroom Tuesday. (Credit: Tara Smith)

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