Man gets 4-12 years in fatal car crash

James Murphy admitted that he inhaled a computer cleaner to get high in December 2013 before the crash that killed Herta Palma.

James Murphy admitted that he inhaled a computer cleaner to get high in December 2013 before the crash that killed Herta Palma. (4/17/15)

RIVERHEAD - A young driver who killed a Commack grandmother after he admittedly inhaled computer cleaner was sentenced Friday to serve four to 12 years in prison.

As part of a plea deal, James Murphy admitted in February to getting high before crashing his car into a vehicle driven by 63-year-old Herta Palma, of Commack, on New Year's Eve 2013. Palma was killed.

Murphy also admitted to sideswiping another vehicle and not stopping just before the fatal daytime crash.

Murphy pleaded guilty to manslaughter, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a crime.

"I'm happy we can finally put closure to this," said Joseph Palma, the victim's son. "I feel he's getting off very lucky," said Palma, referring to Murphy's sentence.

The computer cleaner that Murphy inhaled wasn't listed as a controlled substance. If it had been, he would have faced more serious charges.

Palma plans to work with authorities to introduce legislation that would require stiffer penalties for inhaling chemicals like computer cleaner and operating a vehicle.

Murphy's attorney has said that his client is very remorseful and that Murphy had been heading home from college classes on the afternoon of the crash.

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