Wrong Way driver from May freeway fatalities pleads not guilty

third-wrongwaywreckWrong-way driver Patricia Murphy who caused crash with two fatalities on loop 202 in May 18, 2014 has plead not guilty to all charges including two counts of 2nd degree murder. Police say in June that Murphy “had a blood-alcohol content of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit. A urine test showed Murphy also tested positive for opiates and benzodiazepine”

Murphy “was severely injured in the May 18, 2014 crash and appeared in court in a wheelchair”.  Prosecutors defer/delay filing charges until defendants are well enough to do something about it — so there’s nothing unusual about the lag from June until January.  While the monster-truck she was driving didn’t quite protect her, at least her grandson was safe, however the two fatality victims were entirely obliterated.

This was the third in a string of fatal wrong-way driver-caused freeway fatalities in May that left seven (?) dead plus various serious injuries. The driver in the “second” (5/16/2014) incident, who is suspected of being impaired (what a surprise) still has not been identified; last time I checked he was still in the hospital. The wrong-way driver in the “first” (5/12/2014) incident died on impact, also killing off duty Mesa PD Sgt. Brandon Mendoza.

Plea Deal

Criminal case minutes CR2014159692; Maricopa county case CR2014-159692

News story Feb 2016 on a plea deal that would give Patricia Murphy 10 years prison. (sounds a little light).

Sentencing

Apologists for car-killers frequently invoke the ‘accident’ worldview, from the azcentral news article:

Christie Hill, Murphy’s daughter and the mother of the grandson in the back seat, said that she still would trust her mother with her life and her sons’ lives.

“The accident does not define who my mom is,” Hill said. “She’d give her life to bring Michael and Ashley back.”

Murphy’s sentence did turn out to be the 10 years, mentioned in the deal, plus 3 years of supervised probation (minus 77 days already served). The story says she’ll be 80 when released, but I don’t see why she wouldn’t be eligible for 85% time (7 days credit per 6 days served, assuming good behavior, etc).

10 years prison sounds a bit light for a class 1 dangerous felony… I’m not sure if the reasoning is that she’s already 70 years old, or just what. Steven Martin very recently got 14 years for the same crime with very similar circumstances (impaired driver, driving the wong way on a freeway), and he only killed one person (though multiple counts don’t normally matter; you can kill as many as you like for the same sentence).