The thought of Steven Murray on the streets of Las Vegas frightens Robin Wynkoop, who was stunned by a judge’s decision Thursday to set a $500,000 bail for a man who repeatedly has driven while intoxicated.
Wynkoop’s mother, 55-year-old Patricia Hoff, died Monday morning when Murray’s 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 plowed into a bus stop on Boulder Highway just north of Flamingo Road. The crash also seriously injured 26-year-old Porshe Hughes, who might have one of her legs amputated, according to media reports.
Murray, who has an extensive history of drunken driving and arrests in Texas, is charged with one count of killing a person while driving under the influence and one count of driving under the influence and causing substantial bodily harm.
“Why did they let him out?” wondered Wynkoop, who sobbed during Murray’s hearing. “They knew.”
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron, who set the bail, said that if Murray is released from jail he will be placed on house arrest. The 44-year-old was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on Monday.
Chief Deputy District Attorney L.J. O’Neale asked Bennett-Haron to set the bail high because of Murray’s history of offenses, arrests and failure to appear in court.
O’Neale detailed Murray’s past, which includes four convictions for driving while intoxicated in Texas and a conviction for attempted grand larceny in Nevada.
Nevada Department of Motor Vehicle records also show that Murray had his license suspended for failing to appear in court. In total, Murray’s license has been suspended seven times, O’Neale said.
Under Nevada’s vehicular manslaughter law, O’Neale said Murray could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
“It gives great incentive for Mr. Murray to be somewhere else other than court,” he said.
In Nevada, a person convicted of killing someone while driving under the influence will be sentenced to 25 years to life if they’ve had three prior DUI convictions, according to the state’s vehicular manslaughter law.
Sandy Heverly, executive director of the nonprofit group STOP DUI, was instrumental in getting the law passed. She said the law was created for people like Murray who have multiple DUI convictions.
“It was designed to address the worst of the worst, and he certainly fits that description,” she said.
Murray, who admitted taking the prescription painkillers Valium and Percocet the night before the accident, failed several field sobriety tests at the scene of the crash.
Murray slurred his speech when he spoke and had trouble standing up after the accident, a Las Vegas police report states.
An officer said that Murray didn’t smell of alcohol, the report states.
According to Nevada Department of Motor Vehicle records, Murray shouldn’t have been on the road alone at all because he had only an instruction permit, not a driver’s license.
Wynkoop said it was a small comfort to know Murray would be under house arrest if released.
Services for Hoff will be Sunday at the Valley Funeral Home at 3919 Raymert Drive, near Sandhill and Desert Inn roads. The viewing will be between 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., and Mass will be between 1 and 3 p.m.
Contact reporter David Kihara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.