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Motorist gets life in prison for fatal bus stop crash

Porsche Hughes couldn’t contain her anger Thursday when she confronted the man who took her legs.

Hughes sat in a wheelchair in District Court and spoke directly to Steven Murray, the man who drove his pickup into a Boulder Highway bus shelter and struck her on July 7.

Murray was under the influence of prescription drugs when he hit Hughes and another woman, Patricia Hoff, with his Dodge Ram 1500.

Hoff died. Hughes, 27, was injured so badly doctors had to amputate both her legs. She now uses a wheelchair.

Hughes said Murray deserved to spend the rest of his life behind bars. True justice, she said, would be to plow into him with a truck.

“My life was ruined by a cold, careless coward,” she said.

As Hughes pushed her wheelchair past Murray, she called him a bastard.

District Judge Michelle Leavitt on Thursday sentenced Murray to spend the rest of his life in prison for his role in the crash. He will be eligible for parole after 18 years.

Murray also was ordered to pay almost $500,000 in restitution to Hoff’s family and Hughes.

He was found guilty of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence causing substantial bodily harm.

Murray apologized to the victims and their families during the hearing but acknowledged that he could never repair the damage he caused.

“I know it’s not enough, saying I’m sorry,” he said.

Murray was sentenced under the state’s vehicular homicide law. The law says that anyone with three prior DUI convictions will face life in prison if they are convicted of killing someone while under the influence.

Murray has four prior DUI convictions.

He was under the influence of prescription drugs at the time of the July crash, authorities said.

Hughes said she’ll never forgive Murray.

“No amount of (prison) time will bring back my legs,” said Hughes, who has a 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

She said her legs were gutted like fish after the crash on Boulder Highway near Flamingo Road. She still can’t eat beef or chicken, because it reminds her of her bloody, mangled legs.

Her life has changed in drastic ways. Hughes no longer is employed as a certified nursing assistant. She and her family moved to a smaller apartment. She can’t play with her kids as she did before the crash.

There are painful reminders of her lost legs every day. No more pedicures. No more high heels or boots. She will never feel sandal straps between her toes. She said it even hurts when she sees women wearing shoes and matching purses.

“To have people stare at me like a freak when I’m used to them staring at me like a model hurts,” Hughes said.

Murray, an electrician, was on his way to work at the time of the crash. He had a valid prescription for painkillers, which he took for a back injury.

Relatives said he stopped drinking after his last driving under he influence conviction in 1999 and had recently joined the Mormon church.

But authorities suspended his licence seven times, county prosecutor L.J. O’Neale said.

At the time of the crash, Murray had an instructor’s permit. That required Murray to have someone 21 or older in the car with him at all times.

Darin Imlay, Murray’s public defender, told the judge that his client has been remorseful since the crash.

Imlay said Murray wasn’t a common addict who bought illegal drugs. He had a prescription for the painkillers, Imlay said.

Robin Wynkoop, Hoff’s daughter, called Murray a monster.

Wynkoop said her mother’s funeral service was held about a week after she was killed.

The funeral service took place on the birthday of Wynkoop’s daughter. Instead of celebrating turning 13, her daughter mourned the death of her grandmother.

“You deserve to be in a cage the rest of your life,” Wynkoop said.

 

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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