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Top Stories 2019: Lengthy trial ends with guilty verdict

Following a six-week trial with testimony from 26 witnesses and dozens of tense moments between the judge and defense, Thomas Murphy was found guilty Dec. 18 of all nine counts in the criminal case that resulted from the 2018 crash that claimed the life of 12-year-old Boy Scout Andrew McMorris of Wading River and injured three of his friends.
The packed courtroom was silent as the charges were read off one by one.
Mr. Murphy, 60, took a seat as the jury foreperson concluded her reading of the verdict and his supporters began sobbing. One of Mr. Murphy’s three daughters wrapped her arm around another as reality set in. Sitting only several feet away, Alisa McMorris, Andrew’s mother, raised her left hand to her mouth and began to cry.
Ms. McMorris and her husband, John, continued to sob outside the courtroom as they addressed the media with their 17-year-old daughter, Arianna, standing at their side.
“We trusted the judicial system,” Ms. McMorris said.
“God bless the DA’s office, the jury for seeing what really happened that day, to speak the truth and let the truth prevail,” Mr. McMorris said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini hugged Ms. McMorris after the jury left the courtroom. He spoke with reporters after the verdict was read.
“We’ve obtained justice for Andrew,” he said. “That’s what this was about. We never lost sight of that. And today, justice was served.”
Mr. Murphy’s defense attorney, Steven Politi, said: “You hope that a jury won’t convict with emotion, but sometimes that’s hard for them to do.”
Mr. Politi said he plans to file an appeal, alleging “dozens” of missteps by prosecutors and the judge.
“This is only the beginning,” he said.
Mr. Murphy, who is due back in court Jan. 21 on motions filed during the trial, will be sentenced sometime after that. He is facing a maximum sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, with a minimum of between one and three years.
He will remain free on a $500,000 bond pending sentencing next year.
The fatal crash occurred shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, as Andrew and fellow Scouts were hiking northbound with adults along David Terry Road in Manorville. Mr. Murphy, of Holbrook, was headed home from a round of golf with friends at nearby Swan Lake Golf Club when he left the southbound lane of travel and struck the Scouts as they hiked in the shoulder, witnesses testified at trial.
Friends of Mr. Murphy told jurors he had three mixed vodka drinks as they played golf that morning and early afternoon. Only one of the three friends who spent the day with Mr. Murphy said he believed he was too intoxicated to drive that afternoon. Steven Meola of Astoria said he offered to drive Mr. Murphy’s SUV home.
Mr. Murphy was arrested at the scene of the crash and, after he refused a breath test, police secured a warrant to obtain a sample of his blood, which showed a blood alcohol content of 0.13% four hours after the crash.
Photo caption: Thomas Murphy leaves court after the guilty verdict. (Credit: Tara Smith)