Justice delayed frustrates family of man killed riding motorcycle

Ian and Linda Rattray marked the third anniversary of the death of their son Friday night, gathering with friends and family along the same stretch of road where he was killed by a suspected drunk driver.

Liam Rattray, 23, was riding his motorcycle through Little Five Points when he was hit from behind and thrown off the bike.

Atlanta police arrested Darrin Murphy, charging him with first degree vehicular homicide, following too closely and DUI. But Murphy, now living with his parents in Springville, Tenn., has yet to stand trial.

Murphy’s attorney, Marko Burgar, is seeking to have his client’s charges thrown out because his blood alcohol content was measured, despite his refusal to submit.

Georgia law states that if a person involved in a traffic accident resulting in serious injuries or fatalities refuses to take a chemical sobriety test, “no test shall be given.” That statute was amended in 2006 to allow officers to obtain a search warrant and obtain a blood alcohol content reading, but the old part of the law was left on the books, creating a major contradiction.

“It’s an issue that needs to be resolved,” Burgar said. “The law states two completely different things.”

The case has been appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which hasn’t decided whether to hear it.

For Liam Rattray’s parents, the wait has been agonizing.

“We were told originally there was more than enough evidence (to convict),” Liam’s mother, Linda Rattray, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This was supposed to be an open-and-shut case.”

Her son, a sustainability activist, had just graduated with a degree in public policy from Georgia Tech when he was killed. Born in London, he became an American citizen three months before his death.

“We don’t want another family to go through what we’ve gone through,” Linda Rattray said. “We want (Murphy) off the streets.”

On New Year’s Eve, Murphy was arrested again — this time, in Jackson, Tenn., for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor he met online. Police said Murphy, now 45, invited who he thought was a underage male to his hotel room for a night of drinking and sex but was met instead by members of the department’s Crimes Against Children Task Force.

DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney Heather Waters, who is prosecuting the Rattray case, learned of Murphy’s latest arrest earlier this week after receiving a call from a colleague in Tennessee. She filed a motion on Wednesday to revoke Murphy’s bond. If approved, he would be extradited to Georgia and remain incarcerated until his trial on the vehicular homicide charge, Waters said.

That could be a while, particularly if the Supreme Court decides to hear the case.

“This has been very frustrating,” Linda Rattray said. “I want justice for my son.”