Breaking news: Joel Alexander Murphy gets serious jail time in DUI hit-and-run death of Roger Lippman

I’ve just gotten word that Joel Alexander Murphy has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for the drunken, high-speed hit-and-run collision that took the life of Orange County cyclist Roger Lippman.

Lippman was riding north on PCH along the Bolsa Chica Wetlands last June when he was run down from behind by a car driven by Murphy; a witness reported seeing his body flying over 100 feet through the air following the impact.

Instead of stopping, Murphy continued on until he had second collision a few miles away, crashing into the fence surrounding the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. He was arrested at the scene, and booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and violating probation for prior drug offenses, including DUI, dating back to 2005.

Last month Murphy changed his plea to guilty, reportedly without a deal in place.

On Friday, he was sentenced to 10 years in state prison on one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, along with an additional five years for fleeing the scene. The terms are to be served consecutively, with the five-year sentence specifically excluding any eligibility for parole.

Which means that we can expect Murphy to be off the streets for at least the next 10 years at the bare minimum.

It doesn’t bring Lippman back.

But for once, a killer driver gets more than just a slap on the wrist.

Meanwhile, my source reminds me that the Orange County DA’s office still has not filed charges against Becki Lee James in the allegedly drunken death of cyclist Kenneth Prevatte just a month later and a few miles up the road, despite receiving a final report from the Huntington Beach Police Department over six months ago.

Which makes me wonder what exactly they’re waiting for.

6 comments

  1. Biker395 says:

    Nice, but if he had received a “Watson” warning for his 2005 conviction, he was undercharged. The charge should have been second degree murder, with a further charge for the hit and run. That would have put him in jail for 20+ years, and as far as I’m concerned, the longer the better.

    Supposedly, the OC has a special task force for this sort of thing:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/murder-268382-watson-prior.html

    Sorry for sounding harsh, but I have no patience for repeat DUI offenders and the misery they cause innocent victims and their families.

    • TQ says:

      There was very serious discussion about which charges to press in the Murphy case, and in the end, the DA’s office elected to go with manslaughter/hit-and-run because it was pretty much slam dunk.

      The deputy DA prosecuting this case just secured a murder conviction in February against a drunk driver. Because of similar circumstances regarding questionably admissible evidence due to the method of collection in that case and in Murphy’s, the DA’s office may have been nervous about pushing a murder charge against Murphy.

      I’m glad this skunk was caught at all.

  2. Chris says:

    The belligerent drunk really deserved more but the victim was a cyclist, right? Just throwing us a bone. You take what you can get, I guess. Thoughts, prayers & well wishes to the victim’s family & friends.

  3. mahythesis says:

    While i don’t dare bother even starting to feel any safer from this outcome, at least it poses the potential of worthwhile hope for our grandchildren’s generations; may they live in more enlightened, civilized times (and likely more necessarily on bicycles as they deal with the results of our generation’s other gross miscarriage of daily justice – our ineptitude at starting to deal with runaway climate change and global warming – the faster we deal with these twin issues, the greater the hope for prosperous and happy lives for our descendants).

  4. JD says:

    PCH is still one of the most dangerous bike lanes in existance.

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