MUNISING- The Michigan appeals court ruled an Alger County Circuit Court judge was too lenient when sentencing a drunken driver convicted of accidentally killing his girlfriend.
Thomas Murdock was sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison for drunken driving causing death - a year less than the guidelines in his case. The appeals court is sending the case back to Alger County Judge William Carmody.
Murdock struck Lisa Hardwick while backing up his truck so she could mow the lawn. He said he never knew she was behind the vehicle. They had been smoking marijuana and both had blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit for driving. Murdock had prior alcohol-related convictions.
Murdock's Alger County trial ended July 2012 after a four-day trial and about four hours of jury deliberation.
The jury found Murdock guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, third offense, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine; possession of marijuana, a 1-year misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000; and operating a vehicle with a suspended license, second offense.
The conviction carried a smaller punishment than the more serious charge of involuntary manslaughter, which the jury acquitted him of.
The fatal incident occurred in June 2011 at a camp off Alger County Road 440 about four miles west of Federal Forest Highway 13 near the Alger County-Delta County border.