RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Emotions have been running high at the trial of a Long Island man accused of hitting a group of Boy Scouts while intoxicated last year, killing one.
Witness after witness described the 2018 Boy Scout hike through Suffolk County that turned into their worst nightmare.
Friday morning, a 17-year-old scout who was struck when the accused drunk driver plowed into them took the stand, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports.
The tragic day was recalled in painful detail as Thomas Murphy denied charges he was drunk when his car swerved into the scouts walking along David Terry Road.
Seventeen-year-old Dennis Lane, who was among the victims, told the jury he "saw Murphy's SUV coming toward them" as he walked in the middle of the shoulder.
He said, "The car did not turn with the curve of the road ... I shut my eyes and froze up ... I felt like I got hit in the face with a baseball bat."
Key testimony because the defense claims scouts wandered into the roadway.
"These young boys were poorly supervised. They are young boys wearing 50-pound backpacks walking, according to them, within centimeters sometimes of the road and sometimes in the road," defense attorney Steven Politi said.
Feet away, victims' relatives wiped away tears, including the family of 12-year-old Andrew McMorris, who didn't survive.
"What I found out today is that when Dennis saw the car coming, he knew it was coming, which means Andrew knew it was coming," said Andrew's mother, Alisa McMorris.
Raw emotions triggered daily, which the defense says must have no bearing on the verdict.
"My client did not leave the roadway. My client was not intoxicated. My client did not drive recklessly. My client was involved in a very, very tragic, unfortunate car accident," Politi said.
Andrew McMorris' mother says facts tell a different story.
After drinking vodka on the golf course, witnesses testified Murphy's "eyes were glazed," "he smelled of alcohol" and was "unsteady."
"We know this man was intoxicated. That's what we know. We can play this game, but it's a game," Alisa McMorris said.
Murphy's lawyer pressed the scout on safety rules not followed, such as earphones worn on the hike, suggesting they also ignored rules to stay out of the road.
But the young man calmly and confidently testified that six or seven other cars safely passed them, didn't enter the shoulder and didn't hit them.
Murphy faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide.
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