By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A jury trial in a civil lawsuit is set Oct. 3 in Canadian County District Court – two years to the day after a Mustang High School graduate was killed by a habitual drunk driver.
Jeffrey and Kristine Murrow are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against defendants Malcolm Penney, Amanda Penney and The Springs event venue.
“I think it’s appropriate,” Jeff Murrow said of the trial date. “This will be an opportunity to get justice and for Marissa to have ‘her day in court’, so to speak.”
Malcolm Douglas Penney, 40, was convicted Feb. 1 of second-degree murder and leaving scene of a fatality accident in Canadian County District Court.
Penney pleaded guilty in November 2021 to the felony charges in an October 2020 fatal crash on the Kilpatrick Turnpike near S.W. 15th in Yukon.
Jeff and Kristy Murrow’s daughter, Marissa Renee Murrow, was killed in the “head-on” traffic collision.
Marissa, 19, was a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma and a 2019 Mustang High School graduate.
After attending a wedding in Edmond, Malcolm Penney was driving a vehicle in the wrong direction while under the influence when he caused the deadly collision. He had four previous drinking-and-driving convictions in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Louisiana.
In court documents, Penney is described as a “serial drunk driving offender.”
Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse sentenced Penney in the criminal case to serve life in prison on count one and 10 years on count two. Those sentences will run consecutively.
In a pre-sentence investigation report, state Department of Corrections’ investigator Ryan Peters wrote that Penney “has shown that he continues to be a threat to the community” and “does not take responsibility” for the offense he committed.
Penney has been housed since March 11 at the James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena, Okla.
His wife Amanda – who owned the vehicle he was driving when the fatal traffic collision occurred – also is named in the wrongful death lawsuit.
The trial in the civil case has been continued from Sept. 12, according to Canadian County District Court records.
A pre-trial hearing is set Sept. 27 the jury trial is due to start Oct. 3 before District Judge Jack D. McCurdy II.
CIVIL SUIT ALLEGATIONS
Malcolm Penney “was driving a motor vehicle unlawfully, illegally, negligently, recklessly and in an intoxicated manner on the Kilpatrick Turnpike near Yukon,” according to the civil suit filed by attorney Kevin H. Cunningham on behalf of the Murrow family.
His “decisions, actions and conduct caused and led directly to the collision” that resulted in Marissa Murrow suffering “catastrophic personal injuries” and death.
Malcolm Penney fled the crash scene on foot, did not call 911 and took no action to obtain emergency medical services for Murrow who was trapped inside her wrecked vehicle.
Co-defendant Amanda Penney knew or should have known that Malcolm Penney was intoxicated and “not competent to operate a motor vehicle” when she “permitted such use,” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs claim negligent entrustment by Amanda Penney in allowing an “unsafe, incompetent and intoxicated driver” to operate her 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander motor vehicle.
The Springs owns and operates a for-profit event venue north of Edmond where Malcolm Penney attended the wedding; his wife Amanda was in the wedding party.
The Springs is being sued for negligence for failing to “enforce or properly implement its rules, policies, procedures and prohibitions related to the on-premises consumption of alcohol” at the Oct. 2, 2020 wedding.
The defendant allowed or directed Malcolm Penney to leave its premises despite him having consumed alcohol for “nearly 10 hours that day” and leaving intoxicated in a private motor vehicle, according to the suit.
Jeff and Kristy Murrow 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.
“Marissa was not only a loving daughter and sister for her family she was a trusted friend to hundreds of people,” according to the civil suit.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol investigated the fatal crash that occurred at 12:13 a.m. Oct. 3, 2020, just south of Yukon in eastern Canadian County.
Malcolm Penney was driving the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander northbound in the southbound lanes of the Kilpatrick Turnpike.
That vehicle struck Marissa Murrow’s southbound 2014 Ford Focus “head-on” and she died from her injuries.
She was headed to her family home near Mustang when she was killed.
Penney fled on foot before being 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 a blood-alcohol test showed he 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.”