Tomah man tricks driver, takes his vehicle

November 22, 2018

WISCONSIN DELLS -- Wisconsin Dells Police arrested a 29-year-old Tomah man for taking a vehicle after he tricked the driver into leaving it unattended at a gas station.

Brian Patrick Murphy made his initial appearance Nov.8 in Columbia County Circuit Court facing the felony charge of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, his second offense.

Murphy has a pre-trial conference set for Jan. 14.

According to the criminal complaint, Murphy on Nov. 6 approached a man who was then cleaning out the backseat of his vehicle at the Mobil Gas Station on Broadway Street in Wisconsin Dells and told him the employees inside needed to speak with him. The victim told police the man was acting strangely but went inside anyway. As the employees told him this was not true, the victim witnessed Murphy driving his vehicle away from the gas station. The victim did not know Murphy, whom he described as wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants.

Two days later, a Wisconsin Dells police officer spotted the vehicle on State Highway 23, the complaint states. The officer activated his emergency lights and siren, positioned behind the vehicle, but Murphy did not stop driving initially. Eventually Murphy pulled over to the right side of the road. When Murphy exited the vehicle, the officer could smell a strong odor of intoxicants. Police administered field sobriety tests to determine Murphy was intoxicated.

The complaint states further that the victim’s father-in-law is the owner of the vehicle and that neither he nor his son-in-law gave Murphy permission to take the vehicle.

Murphy could receive up to six years in prison for the felony charge and six months for his second-offense OWI.

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