TODAY'S PAPER
38° Good Afternoon
38° Good Afternoon
Long Island

Sentencing in Scout death case ends emotional roller-coaster in court

Arianna McMorris, the sister of Boy Scout Andrew

Arianna McMorris, the sister of Boy Scout Andrew McMorris, speaks as her parents, John and Alisa McMorris, stand by after the sentencing Wednesday.   Credit: John Roca

Alisa McMorris gripped her daughter Arianna's arm tightly as Acting State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho took a deep breath, looked briefly toward the heavens and pronounced the sentence her family had waited to hear.

Camacho said Thomas Murphy, the Holbrook man convicted of driving drunk and running down her 12-year-old son Andrew, ending the life of the aspiring pilot, and injuring three other Boy Scouts, would face the maximum sentence allowed by law for his crimes — 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

On the second anniversary of the Manorville crash that decimated families, traumatized the young survivors and left Long Islanders grieving, the McMorris family said justice had finally been delivered for Andrew.

"There are no winners today," Arianna McMorris said following the verdict. "Andrew did not come back to life. Thomas [Lane] and the other Boy Scouts did not recover from their injuries. And Thomas Murphy is going to prison and getting his earthly consequences for the actions and wrongdoings he committed."

Murphy sat motionless Wednesday as Camacho read the verdict. His wife, Jackie, shrieked in anguish, pleading for an opportunity to hug her husband as he was ushered from the courtroom in handcuffs.

Jackie Murphy collapsed moments later as she waited for a courthouse elevator, part of the deep emotional aftermath of the crash and the lives it permanently ruptured.

But on Wednesday, Andrew McMorris was on everyone's mind and reminders of him were seen throughout the courthouse.

Family and supporters wore red, Andrew's favorite color, in solidarity with the family. Many wore red ribbons or small photos of the 12-year-old on their lapels.

The McMorris family later played a video montage of Andrew's short life, one that appeared to capture the essence of a young man who seemed to excel at everything he put his mind to and appeared destined for success.

Images of Andrew with Santa Claus, celebrating his favorite holiday. The talented actor appearing in a school performance of "The Wiz." And the boy behind the wheel of a small airplane after a summer camp studying aviation.

"Nothing will ever bring him back," said William Schaefer, Andrew's maternal grandfather. "There is no place to go to get away from the pain and loss."

One by one in court, members of the McMorris family described how Andrew's death had impacted their tight-knit family.

"Mr. Murphy, you ruined my life," Arianna said. "Not only did you take my brother from me but you took my childhood."

John and Alisa McMorris, Andrew's parents, said their family had been permanently altered.

"Part of me died that day," John McMorris said. "Andrew didn't die that day. He was stolen from us."

Alisa McMorris said "it feels like I am trying to live without one of my legs and I was not given crutches."

The crash on David Terry Road in Manorville injured three other Scouts from Troop 161: Thomas Lane, who spent two weeks in the hospital and required multiple surgeries to recover from his injuries; his older brother Denis Lane, both of Shoreham, and Kaden Lynch of Calverton.

Colleen Lane, Thomas and Denis' mother, said the crash had "ripple effects" that splintered countless lives and families.

"We have a new normal," she said. "We are OK but we are forever changed."

Denis Lane, welling up with tears, said the crash left him angry, helpless, and in a cycle of sadness and fear.

"Mr. Murphy stole from me my dignity, my sanity and innocence," he said, "just as he took Andrew's life."

Latest Long Island News