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Scout's mom: Guilty verdict brings healing after son's death in Manorville crash

John and Alisa McMorris, with their daughter Arianna,

John and Alisa McMorris, with their daughter Arianna, as Alisa holds up a picture of their son Andrew, after Thomas Murphy was found guilty on all charges at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday. Credit: James Carbone

Alisa McMorris had waited 15 months to hear the word that she said could finally help her heal.

"Guilty," the jury forewoman said.

Thomas Murphy, accused of driving into her 12-year-old son Andrew on a Manorville road, killing him and injuring three others after a morning of downing vodka on a nearby golf course, was guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Guilty of second-degree manslaughter. Guilty of second-degree assault. 

The verdict continued inside the muted Riverhead courtroom for more than 90 seconds Wednesday as Murphy was convicted of all nine counts for crashing into a group of Boy Scouts from Troop 161 hiking on the shoulder of David Terry Road on Sept. 30, 2018.

"This won't bring Andrew back but maybe we can step forward now and heal together as a community," McMorris said moments after the verdict was read.

McMorris sat in the front row of the courtroom every day of the nearly six-week trial, often clutching a picture of Andrew as she talked daily with reporters. She was joined by an entourage of nearly 100 relatives, friends, neighbors and supporters, often dressed in red in solidarity with the family.

John McMorris, Andrew's father and an assistant Scout leader, was prohibited from sitting in the courtroom until after his emotional testimony last week in which he discussed seeing his son, lying unconscious on the side of the road, bleeding from his skull.

"This entire process of losing a child, without a trial, is shattering," Alisa McMorris said. "And the only way you stand is by the support of your friends and family and community. And that's a testament to the truth that needed to be told. And today we got that."

Andrew's memory was a constant shadow over a trial that was often consumed by talk of blood alcohol chemistry and Boy Scout regulations. 

Photos of the seventh grader were displayed repeatedly by the prosecution. Witnesses recalled his passion for aviation, his gift for the piano and his skills running cross country. Mementos of a child, who dreamed of one day becoming a pilot, were held tightly by his parents. 

And supporters casually shared memories of the boy in courthouse hallways, and noted, that for them, Thanksgiving and Christmas -- Andrew's favorite time of the year -- would be forever altered. 

Alisa McMorris gave Assistant District Attorney Brendan Ahern, chief of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau, a pair of Andrew's eyeglasses to keep in his pocket before the attorney delivered his closing argument Monday. 

Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said McMorris wanted to ensure that Ahern "could see clearly that path toward justice. And that's exactly what he did."

As Murphy left the courthouse Wednesday, his fate sealed by a jury of his peers who deliberated for just over a day, a fast moving snow squall swept through Riverhead. A chill filled the December air as Murphy and his family raced to his car without commenting to reporters. 

Moments later, the snow halted and the sun peeked out ever so slightly from behind the cloud cover. 

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