A Watertown man was sentenced Monday in Jefferson County Court to 18 years in state prison for causing a crash that killed a Brownville woman in October as he was fleeing from police.
Francis T. Terry Morgia, 48, pleaded guilty May 15 to second-degree attempted murder in connection with the Oct. 3 accident in which Shirley H. Hammond, 75, was killed at routes 12 and 342 in the town of Pamelia. Morgia was fleeing police after robbing an elderly woman of her purse at the Kohls department store in the town of Watertown.
The pursuit began when Morgia failed to stop for Glen Park village Police Chief Larry M. Jobson and continued on to West Main and Bradley streets before proceeding out of Watertown on Route 12 at speeds of up to 120 mph. The chase ended when Morgias vehicle struck one driven by Mrs. Hammonds son, off-duty Watertown police Officer William K. Rafferty. Mr. Rafferty and Mrs. Hammonds other son, Jeffrey C. Hammond, as well as Autumn Tharrett, an off-duty Syracuse police officer, were injured in the crash. Morgia admitted that he was under the influence of cocaine at the time.
Before sentencing, Mr. Hammond described his mother as a child of the Depression who, along with eight siblings, often had to stay with relatives because their parents had so little means. He said his mother was one of the lucky ones because she was able to graduate from high school.
Unable to have children of her own, she adopted Mr. Hammond and Mr. Rafferty, her nephew whose own parents were killed in a crash about 6 miles from where the October crash occurred. When Mrs. Hammonds husband died a few years later, she was left to raise the boys on her own, Mr. Hammond said.
She would sacrifice everything for her family, he said. That was the type person she was.
Mr. Hammond said his mother was the family historian who also dispensed guidance to all family members.
The actions of one selfish individual took all that away from us, he said.
Before sentencing was pronounced, Morgia apologized to the Hammond and Rafferty families.
I did not mean to hurt anybody. I do sincerely apologize, he said.
In addition to 18 years in prison, Morgia must undergo five years of supervision upon his release and pay $12,000 in restitution.
He also entered guilty pleas May 15 to three additional grand larceny counts for three other purse-snatching incidents.