The defense attorney for Thomas Murphy, the 60-year-old Holbrook man accused of driving drunk into a pack of Boy Scouts in Manorville, killing one, called into question how the vial carrying blood drawn from his client was transported and whether investigators in the case had conflicts of interest due to close ties with the victims’ families on the trial’s 10th day Wednesday.
Taking the witness stand was Detective Adam Friedlander, a 23-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department and an investigator with Major Case Unit, who was called to the scene after Mr. Murphy had already been arrested. Also testifying was 25-year department veteran Detective William Sheridan, a former Homicide investigator now with major cases, who was responsible for transporting to the crime laboratory the blood sample that is a key piece of evidence in the case.
Prosecutors have said Mr. Murphy’s measured blood alcohol content was .13 nearly four hours after the Sept. 30, 2018 crash on David Terry Road and was estimated to have been .19 at the time of the crash, a reading more than twice the legal limit.
On Wednesday, though, defense attorney Steven Politi questioned how the sample was handled by police, asking why it took five hours for the test to be delivered to the crime lab. Det. Sheridan said there are other tasks that need be completed before taking the vials, which he said were kept in the center console of his vehicle, to the lab.
“Paperwork needs to be generated before,” he said.
Because the Crime Lab was closed at this time, he also had to first stop at the County Police 4th precinct in Smithtown to get an electronic key to the Crime Lab, so he could place the vials into evidence there in a refrigerated container.
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Mr. Politi questioned why something that doesn’t need to be refrigerated would be done before delivering something that does need refrigeration.
Det. Sheridan told jurors arresting officer Daniel Brecht prepared the blood test and sealed two vials of blood in a kit and he did not witness the blood being drawn.
Mr. Politi questioned how Mr. Sheridan could know if there were two vials in the blood test kit, as is required, since it was sealed.
In his testimony, Det. Friedlander became the fourth police officer to testify that he believed Mr. Murphy, who he interacted with at the precinct, was drunk that day.
“My Observation is that he was intoxicated by alcohol,” he told the jury.
But Mr. Politi questioned Det. Friedlander’s relationship with the family of Andrew McMorris, the 12-year-old boy killed in the crash, who live in the same Wading River neighborhood as the investigator.
“It’s not something I would classify as a relationship,” he said. “Our kids went to the same school.”
But Mr. Politi said Det. Friedlander’s wife has donated money online “in memory of Andrew McMorris” and had sent a letter to Judge Fernando Camacho saying her son was friends with Andrew McMorris. Det. Friedlander maintained that he did not know the McMorris family, only his wife did.
Mr. is facing a 16-count indictment with a top charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of 8 1/2 to 25 years in prison. Testimony in the trial will continue Monday.
Caption: Alisa McMorris, the mother of Andrew, speaks with reporters outside the courtroom Wednesday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)