Impaired driver sentenced for crash that killed child

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
John Edward Morken, 42. By Mike Gertzman John Edward Morken, 42. By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The impaired driver of a stolen Porsche was sentenced this week to 16 years in prison for causing a crash that killed a 13-year-old child.

John Edward Morken pleaded guilty to second-degree murder related to the Nov. 2012 crash on Interstate 10 west of Phoenix. He also pleaded 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.