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Top Stories 2020: Thomas Murphy gets maximum sentence in Boy Scout death

Two years to the day after killing 12-year-old Andrew McMorris in a drunken driving crash, Thomas Murphy was sent to prison.

Mr. Murphy, 61, of Holbrook, was sentenced Sept. 30 to the maximum 8 1/3 to 25 years behind bars by acting Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho, who rejected a request for a new trial after the defense made allegations of juror misconduct.

Mr. Murphy was convicted by a jury Dec. 18, 2019, on nine counts, including a top charge of aggravated vehicular homicide. He was driving drunk on David Terry Road in Manorville on the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2018, when he struck the Wading River boy and injured three more Boy Scouts: Thomas and Denis Lane and Kaden Lynch.

Eight speakers from the McMorris and Lane families delivered victim impact statements from a jury box during the sentencing, often addressing Mr. Murphy directly.

“Mr. Murphy senselessly took a life and sentenced us to a lifetime without our beautiful, loving boy,” Andrew’s father, John McMorris, told the court. 

Judge Camacho said Mr. Murphy is solely responsible for the pain and destruction caused by his actions, but also said he didn’t think he was an evil man. “By all accounts Thomas Murphy led a decent, good life. I don’t doubt that,” the judge said. “The message that needs to go out of this is there has to be consequences even for decent people.”

Defense attorney Steven Politi said his client feels terrible about the accident. “His life ended two years ago, too,” Mr. Politi said, adding that Mr. Murphy would trade places with Andrew “in a heartbeat.”

The sentencing marked the end of a long and emotional process for both sides, though Mr. Politi has said Mr. Murphy will continue to appeal his conviction.