By Katie Urbaszewski / Houma Courier
A Houma teenager was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to killing his girlfriend in a wreck while drunk.
Stephen Murphy was driving with Amanda Doyle, 18, of Houma, on Dec. 11 when he lost control on Savanne Road, hit a mailbox and flipped into a water-filled ditch, State Police said.
Murphy, 18 at the time, was driving 81 mph in a 45-mph zone and had more than two times the amount of alcohol in his system allowed by law for a person under 21, police said.
Murphy pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, which carries a minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 30. Murphy will serve his first five years in prison without parole, said his attorney Gregg Graffagnino.
He also pleaded guilty to underage possession of alcohol, Assistant District Attorney Jason Dagate said.
Doyle's mother, Lisa Doyle, asked Judge Arceneaux Thursday to be lenient with his sentencing, but “the judge felt anything less than what he gave couldn't be just,” Graffagnino said.
“She misses her daughter,” Graffagnino said. “It was obvious that she was very upset about the whole situation. Stephen was like a son to her, so she feels she's losing a son as well.”
Murphy has said he intended to marry Amanda Doyle. Lisa Doyle has said repeatedly that she does not want Murphy to serve prison time, but prosecutors said the interest to the public comes before the interest of family members in this case.
“It's a sad case all around, but the message needs to be sent that nothing good can come of drinking and driving,” Degate said. “Even though some of the family members were requesting mercy and leniency in the verdict, we have to weigh the public interest, and I think what the judge did was fair.”
Degate said it's important to “send the message, to not only young people but people in general, that if you choose to get behind the wheel after drinking, bad things can come. If someone gets hurt, there will be consequences.”
The Doyles have filed a lawsuit against Murphy and his insurance companies seeking an unnamed amount of money for funeral expenses, mental anguish and suffering.
Murphy and Amanda Doyle graduated from H.L. Bourgeois High in Gray last year. The pair had been dating since May 2011, when they attended prom together, family members said.
The wreck happened because Murphy was nearly sideswiped by a passing car, he has said. As both cars entered a right curve, the other car quickly moved into his lane, and he swerved to avoid a collision.
He also maintains that the pickup's passenger-side back tire came off the truck, making the crash even more unavoidable.
Police have discounted Murphy's version of events.