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16-Year Prison Sentence for Driver Arrested by DPS

Sentencing stems from driver’s role in the death of a 13-year-old child

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 -

Phoenix, Ariz. - John Edward Morken will serve 16 years for the 2nd-degree murder of a 13 year-old child, along with several other felonies, stemming from a deadly crash he caused in November 2012 along Interstate 10, east of Eagle Eye Road. Morken pled guilty in September 2013, in the Maricopa County Superior Court and was sentenced on Dec. 16, 2013. Morken also plead guilty to four counts of aggravated assault, endangerment and criminal damage.

Morken was driving erratically and at a high rate of speed in a stolen Porsche sports car when he rear ended a Chevrolet Suburban carrying a family of six. The crash forced the Suburban into the median where it rolled over.

Three children on board were ejected during the crash. Edgar Valasquez 13, was killed and two younger children sustained critical injuries. Two adults sustained serious injuries and a toddler suffered minor injuries. The occupants of the Suburban were all transported to a local hospital.

Morken was flown from the scene to a local hospital with minor injuries. Morken displayed violent and erratic behavior to medical staff on board the helicopter, at the hospital and during contact with law enforcement.

Morken admitted to taking prescription medications, including Alprazolam, known more commonly as Xanax. A prescription bottle containing Xanax issued the day of the collision was found with 10 of the pills missing.

An analysis of Morken’s blood by the DPS Crime Lab revealed an amount of Xanax that was well over the therapeutic dose at the time of the crash.

Detectives with the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Vehicular Crimes Unit (VCU) investigated and presented the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.