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McPherson Sentenced to 25-life in DWI Murder

McPherson drove wrong way on Southern State Parkway after nightclub shooting; BAC was more than twice the legal limit

MINEOLA, NY – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that Franklin McPherson, who was convicted in June of murder following a wrong-way DWI car crash on the Southern State Parkway, has been sentenced to serve 25 years-to-life in prison by a Nassau County judge.

On June 30, 2008, a Nassau County jury found McPherson, 21, of Deer Park, guilty of Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter and Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Aggravated DWI, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree.  Nassau County Judge George Peck presided over the trial and sentencing Tuesday afternoon. 

Rice said that on October 19, 2007, at approximately 3:20 a.m., 911 calls were received about shots being fired in the Municipal Parking Lot next to the Island Rock Lounge in Hempstead.  Immediately thereafter, the screeching tires of a vehicle were heard leaving the same area.  Hempstead police officers responding to the scene recovered five .9mm shell casings but were unable to identify a shooter or a victim of the shooting.

Approximately ten minutes later, 911 calls were received reporting a vehicle traveling the wrong way on the Southern State Parkway. The car, a 1999 silver Lexus, was first spotted between exits 18 and 19 of the parkway, traveling about 70 miles per hour at various points before it collided near exit 13 with a Jeep Cherokee driven by 44-year-old Leslie Burgess. The head-on crash sent the Jeep airborne before it flipped over several times, landing on its side on the south shoulder of the parkway. A fire engulfed the vehicle within minutes and Burgess was killed.

A blood test later determined that McPherson’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was .19, more than twice the legal limit to drive. The investigation also revealed that the five shell casings taken from the scene of the Island Rock shooting matched a .9mm handgun recovered in McPherson’s car.  Authorities also recovered a bag of cocaine in the vehicle.

“We will continue to fight to hold drunk drivers responsible for their actions and for their selfish decision to endanger all of our families and loved ones on our roads,” said Rice following the sentencing.  “This was not an accident.  This defendant’s decisions made this crash inevitable.” 

The ‘depraved indifference’ murder conviction marks the second time in the last two years that a jury has found a defendant guilty of murder in connection with a DWI automobile crash.  In October 2006, the Rice administration successfully obtained the unprecedented murder conviction of Martin Heidgen, who is now serving 18 years-to-life in prison for the July 2005 double murder of a limousine driver and a wedding’s seven-year-old flower girl on the Meadowbrook Parkway.

Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick has handled the DWI murder prosecutions of both Heidgen and McPherson.   Mr. McPherson is being represented by Dennis Lemke, Esq.