By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A habitual drunk driver has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for causing a “wrong-way” crash near Yukon that killed a college student from Mustang.
Oklahoma City’s Malcolm Douglas Penney, 40, learned his fate during a Feb. 1st hearing in Canadian County District Court.
He was convicted of second-degree murder and leaving the scene of a fatality accident stemming from an Oct. 3, 2020, traffic collision on the Kilpatrick Turnpike near S.W. 15th.
Oklahoma City’s Marissa Renee Murrow, 19, was killed in the “head-on” crash. A 2019 Mustang High School graduate, Murrow was a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma where she was studying to become a special education teacher.
“Penney was driving a vehicle the wrong direction while under the influence on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike when he caused a collision that resulted in the death of Murrow,” according to court documents.
“Penney left the collision scene on foot and was later found and detained. Penney has multiple previous convictions for DUI (driving under the influence).”
Penney appeared at the Feb. 1st sentencing hearing with attorney Daniel Hensch.
Judge Hesse sentenced Penney to life in Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ custody on count one and 10 years on count two, with the sentences to run consecutively. Penney, who was booked into the Canadian County Jail hours after the deadly crash, was given credit for time served.
The defendant pleaded guilty on Nov. 23, 2021, to second-degree murder and no contest to leaving the scene of a fatality accident.
Penney’s sentencing was postponed from Jan. 18 so state DOC officials could complete a required pre-sentence investigation.
That pre-sentence report was filed Jan. 26 in Canadian County District Court.
“The defendant has shown that he continues to be a threat to the community,” DOC investigator Ryan Peters wrote in the report. “The defendant does take responsibility for the instant offense and has expressed some remorse for his actions.”
Peters recommended Penney “be sentenced to a term of incarceration as determined by the court.”
Three of the victim’s friends and her parents, Jeffrey and Kristine Murrow, presented victim’s impact statements during the Jan. 18th court hearing.
Friends and family were back in the courtroom Feb. 1 when Penney learned his punishment – life plus 10 years in prison.
“I know that will give me, and her family and her friends, some sort of closure,” Ashlynn Stewart said after the sentencing. “But it still doesn’t change the fact that we don’t have Marissa anymore.”
‘NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HURT ANYHONE ELSE’
Murrow was a valedictorian at Mustang High School, where she was a cheerleader and wrestling team manager.
A member of the youth group at Mustang’s Chisholm Heights Baptist Church, she loved singing and leading worship with the praise band.
Murrow was a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority and Baptist Student Ministry at UCO.
In a social media post, the victim’s mother described the “up and downs” of the past few weeks leading up to Penney’s sentencing.
Kristy Murrow pointed out that Marissa should have been celebrating her 21st birthday on Jan. 24.
“One of her first major milestones missed,” Marissa’s mother wrote in her Feb. 1st post. “I missed her like crazy that day and grieved the missing pictures and posts of her celebrating with her friends as I know she would have.”
Mrs. Murrow was grateful for the outcome of the sentencing hearing.
“Judge Hesse sentenced her killer to the maximum allowed on both counts and ordered they be ran consecutively,” she posted. “This is exactly what I wanted so that he will not have another opportunity to drink and drive again. This was so important to us – that he never be allowed to hurt anyone else.”
Kristy Murrow thanked Judge Hesse, assistant district attorneys Austin Murrey and Eric Epplin, and OHP troopers. She also expressed appreciation to family and friends for their love and support over the last 16 months.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol investigated the fatal crash that occurred at 12:13 a.m. Oct. 3, 2020, in eastern Canadian County. Court documents detail the incident.
Penney was driving a 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander northbound in the southbound lanes of the Kilpatrick Turnpike. That vehicle struck Murrow’s southbound 2014 Ford Focus “head-on” and she died from her injuries.
Penney fled the crash scene on foot, OHP troopers learned. He was later found by Oklahoma City police officers and brought back to the scene, where he was identified by witnesses.
Troopers observed several indicators that Penney was under the influence of alcohol and reportedly was driving at twice the legal limit.
Penney had four previous DUI convictions and one public drunk conviction in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Louisiana. In each DUI case, he received a suspended sentence.
In a written statement for the pre-sentence investigation report, Penney acknowledged he had gone to a wedding where he had been drinking and then drove his car.
Penney thought he was taking a turnpike on-ramp – but it was the off-ramp, according to the report.
“I set my cruise control to 68 mph and then went over the hill to find myself facing traffic,” Penney wrote in his statement. “I swerved to avoid an 18-wheeler and crashed into Marissa Murrow’s Ford Focus.
“I got out of my car and tried to check on Marissa but a lady at the scene told me to leave her car alone. I walked down the hill to get my head wrapped around the events of the night. I then saw the police car’s lights at the top of the hill, so I went up to speak with him and that’s when I was arrested.”
Malcolm Penney and his wife Amanda – who owns the vehicle he was driving – faces a wrongful death lawsuit in Canadian County District Court.
A jury trial is set Sept. 12 before District Judge Jack McCurdy with a pre-trial conference Aug. 24.
The victim’s parents are plaintiffs in the civil suit. They seek to recover damages for their daughter’s personal injuries, physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of companionship, grief and sorrow, and loss of the family relationship.