Shackled at both the feet and from the waist to his hands, Alex Allen Catterson sat as Judge Roger Prokes sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
At the Friday afternoon sentencing hearing, defense attorney Samuel Scroggie spread his arm around Catterson’s shoulders as Catterson, 22, signed his rights for the next 10 years in prison.
Following a four-day testimony trial, a jury rendered Catterson guilty of a DWI involving the death of another after deliberating for two and a half hours Feb. 16.
Catterson wrecked his black two-door truck into the front door of the Palms bar at a speed of 19.7 mph at around 12:40 a.m. Jan. 7, 2018. Walking out of the Palms at that time was Northwest sophomore Morgan McCoy. The front end of Catterson’s half-ton truck struck Morgan McCoy. Morgan McCoy was unconscious at the scene, then transported to SSM St. Francis hospital where she died.
Prokes made his way into the courtroom, and announced the court would be in recess until Scroggie arrived. The gallery sat, chatting amongst themselves. About two minutes later, the courtroom door swung open.
In walked Scroggie carrying his top hat, dressed in a navy suit, followed by the rest of Catterson’s family and friends who filled in the remaining empty seats on the defense side.
Prosecuting attorney Robert Rice and Special Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Watson called their first victim impact witness.
John McCoy, Morgan McCoy’s father, took the witness stand where a box of tissues had been placed. John McCoy spoke about his daughter, voice shaking, and asked the judge that Alex Catterson serves 15 years.
The maximum sentence for a DWI involving the death of another is 15 years in Missouri. The prosecuting attorney argued for the maximum sentence. The defense attorney argued for the minimum sentence of 7 years.
Rice called three more of Morgan McCoy’s loved ones to give their victim impact statements including; previous boyfriend Jerry Kuhler, her Sigma Kappa little Alana Hollingsworth and roommate Riley Buckman.
Each shared stories of Morgan McCoy, the good times. They then described the impact the incident has on their lives; all had sought counseling, recounted sleepless nights and thoughts of suicide.
“The truck, the ambulance, Morgan. The truck, the ambulance, Morgan,” Buckman said. “It was on a loop in my head.”
Brenda McCoy, Morgan McCoy’s mother, took the witness stand as the last to give her impact statement from the prosecuting side.
The gallery on the prosecuting side sat shoulder-to-shoulder. Several were left standing behind the fifth row. An urn with Morgan McCoy’s ashes was passed around.
Brenda McCoy started out her impact statement, eyes already red, sharing the last thing she had said to her daughter.
“I told the girls to be safe and smart,” Brenda McCoy said.
She then explained the moment she woke up to missed calls from Morgan McCoy’s friends, and rushing to Maryville.
Brenda McCoy shared stories about her daughter. The prosecuting side of the gallery laughed occasionally at the memories, and then went back to sniffling.
Talking through tears, Brenda McCoy described her life without Morgan McCoy. She told the court that Morgan McCoy dreamed of becoming a pre-K teacher because she loved little ones — especially her 3-year-old niece, Z.
Z stood in the gallery wearing sparkly sneakers, arms swung over the front bench, and smiled. Someone reached up and brushed back her long brown hair.
Before leaving the witness stand, Brenda McCoy held up a teddy bear that she had brought with her. She squeezed the paw of the teddy bear and Morgan McCoy’s laughter projected throughout the courtroom. The quiet cries weren't so quiet anymore.
Brenda McCoy left the witness stand, walked to the prosecuting table and grabbed a canvas collage picturing Morgan McCoy. She had set up the collage to look at while giving her statement.
Z ran out from behind the bench to meet Brenda McCoy. Brenda McCoy crouched down and hugged Z. Together, they walked back to the gallery and took a seat.
Scroggie called his first person to give a victim impact statement. Maryville high school science teacher Rachel Bozarth took the witness stand.
Bozart painted a picture of Catterson coming off as harsh when she first met him, but later realized it was a defense mechanism he was forced to learn.
She shared a story of Catterson’s mom coming to parent-teacher conferences once. She told Catterson the next day at school that his mom was proud and loved him very much. He replied, “not more than she loves her alcohol.”
Seven more of Catterson’s friends and family took the witness stand. All gave condolences to the McCoy family, spoke highly of Catterson’s character and said he was remorseful.
“He never knew Morgan McCoy, but he will never forget her,” family friend Zylpha Duffy said.
Stephanie Allen, Alex Catterson’s mother, took the witness stand. Allen spoke through a raspy voice, fighting back the tears, and described the night Morgan McCoy died.
Allen kept her eyes on Catterson for the duration of her testimony, cheeks tear-stained. She said Catterson had to be put on anti-depressants and take sleeping pills after the incident. Allen asked the judge to give Catterson a chance.
Catterson addressed the court from where he was sitting at the defense table. The first thing he said was an apology to the McCoy family.
“I never want to drink again,” Catterson said. “I want to go into schools and talk to kids.”
After Catterson finished reading from his notes written on notebook paper, he turned his head around to look at Morgan McCoy’s family. A tear ran down Catterson’s face as he looked at them for second, said sorry again, and then turned around.
The courtroom sat still as Prokes began to give his sentence. Catterson will be in prison for the next decade. Prokes set the appeal bond at $150,000.