Alaska teen in fatal crash sentenced to year in jail

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) [—] An Anchorage teenager who drove through a red light and caused a fatal crash has been sentenced to a year in jail and six months of community service.

Murphy Madison Gross was 16 when his sport utility vehicle T-boned a smaller vehicle carrying four people, including Catherine Cope, 27, a mother of two. Cope died of injuries from the Feb. 6, 2013, crash.

Gross, now 17, pleaded guilty in July to criminally negligent homicide and three misdemeanor assault charges as part of a plea agreement, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

After Gross was indicted, prosecutors said the teenager took his father’s new sport utility vehicle without permission, smoked marijuana with friends and drove without a license.

A blood sample taken from Gross an hour after the accident tested positive for marijuana, but a judge ruled the test was conducted without probable cause and the evidence was suppressed.

Prosecutors also said Gross was distracted by a text message. Investigators said he sent or received 14 texts and four phone calls in the half hour before the crash. The final text was received at 2:36 a.m., about a minute before the collision at busy A Street and Northern Lights Boulevard.

Gross’ attorney denied he was texting, and assistant district attorney Daniel Shorey said during sentencing Thursday that it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cope was originally from Bethel. She had driven to pick up her husband, Ryan Cope, from his job at Guido’s Pizza. With Ryan Cope behind the wheel, they were giving a ride home to two co-workers.

Defense attorney John Murtagh said the case was not about speeding or running a red light. Convenience-store surveillance video showed Gross “absolutely hit the brakes” before entering the roadway or the crosswalk, Murtagh said.

Alaska law allows drivers to send and receive text messages if their vehicles are stopped, Murtagh said.

Ryan Cope said he was frustrated by the plea deal. He said his daughters have been sentenced to a life without their mother.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Jamel Alexander, center, listens as a Snohomish County jury records their verdict of guilty, in the murder of Shawna Brune, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  Alexander was convicted in the first degree murder of Brune. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Appeals court orders new trial in Everett woman’s stomping death

Appellate judges ruled that additional evidence should have been admitted in Jamel Alexander’s trial for the murder of Shawna Brune.

Kristy Carrington, CEO of Providence Swedish of North Puget Sound, speaks during a Healthcare Summit at Everett Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Providence, Optum and Premera discuss challenges at Everett summit

Five panelists spoke on labor shortages, high costs and health care barriers Wednesday at Everett Community College.

A salmon leaps out of the water while migrating up Wood Creek on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
As Woods Creek railroad trestle comes down, a new doorway for salmon

The trestle was a toxic, physical barrier for salmon since 1939. Now, migrating fish will benefit from its removal.

Schools still without water after service restored to Tulalip homes

The affected area included Quil Ceda Elementary, as well as Heritage and Legacy high schools.

Most Read