Thomas Murphy arrives at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead in 2019.

Thomas Murphy arrives at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead in 2019. Credit: James Carbone

The state’s highest court has refused to hear Thomas Murphy’s appeal of his aggravated vehicular homicide conviction for driving drunk into a group of Boy Scouts in Manorville and killing 12-year-old Andrew McMorris of Wading River.

In a decision dated Oct. 6, Judge Michael J. Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals denied an application filed by Murphy's defense team seeking to have his conviction overturned after previously being denied by a lower appeals court. The court gave no reason for the denial.

“We feel relief that the verdict has been upheld and we have found justice for Andrew and Troop 161,” Alisa McMorris, Andrew's mother, said Thursday. “For our family there is still an emptiness we feel each day. Andrew will never walk through that door again. He will not graduate with his friends this coming June, and there is a deafening silence that echoes from his empty room.”

With his state appeals virtually exhausted, Murphy, 64, of Holbrook, intends to ask a federal court to hear his appeal as he continues serving his 8 1/3-to-25 year sentence at Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate Stormville, his trial attorney said.

Murphy's defense attorney, Steven Politi of Central Islip, said the decision to not hear arguments on the appeal shows a "blatant disregard for truth and what is fair."

"This particular judge simply rubber-stamped the narrative and distortion of the truth from the prosecutors," Politi said.

McMorris and former Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Brendan Ahern, the lead trial prosecutor on the case, said they hoped that five years after the crash and nearly four years since the start of the trial, this week’s decision would bring an end to the criminal case.

“My hope is that finally the families can fully focus on their loss, the grieving process and their healing,” Ahern said.

Andrew McMorris in an undated photograph.

Andrew McMorris in an undated photograph. Credit: McMorrisFamily

Prosecutors contended Murphy spent hours before the Sept. 30, 2018, crash drinking vodka at the Swan Lake Golf Club in Manorville with three friends. Roughly a mile from the golf course, Murphy crossed a white fog line and crashed into the Scouts, who were on a 20-mile hike, according to evidence presented at trial.

The crash injured three other Scouts from Troop 161: Thomas Lane and his older brother Dennis Lane, both of Shoreham, and Kaden Lynch of Calverton.

Murphy refused a Breathalyzer test, and blood tests four hours later showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.13%, well above the legal limit of 0.08%, according to evidence at trial.

Murphy’s trial lasted more than five weeks, ending in December 2019 with him being convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide, second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and second-degree vehicular assault. Then-Acting State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho handed Murphy the maximum sentence under state law.

Politi has maintained that the crash was a "tragic accident" and that his client was not legally intoxicated when he got behind the wheel of his white Mercedes SUV.

In an appeal rejected by a lower court in July, Murphy’s appellate attorney, Robert Mischel of Manhattan, alleged misconduct by prosecutors at trial and said judicial bias prejudiced the Suffolk jury that convicted his client. The appeal also brought up for review the denial without a hearing of a motion to controvert a warrant to obtain blood and to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test.

In upholding the conviction, the four-judge panel of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division in Brooklyn had ruled each of Murphy’s claims was “without merit.”

Murphy will first be eligible for parole in January 2029.

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