The wrong-way drunken driver who crashed head-on into a limousine, killing a 7-year-old Lido Beach girl and a limo's driver, has lost an appeal to overturn his murder conviction.
By a 3-1 margin, the appeals court affirmed the conviction of Martin Heidgen in the horrific wrong-way crash on the Meadowbrook Parkway July 2, 2005. Heidgen, who moved to Valley Stream from Arkansas a year earlier, is serving 19 years in state prison.
The murder charges were based on the prosecution's contention that Heidgen showed "depraved indifference" by driving the wrong way for miles after a night of heavy drinking.
Katie Flynn, 7, of Lido Beach, returning from her role as a flower girl in a local wedding, was killed in the crash along with the limo driver, Stanley Rabinowitz of Farmingdale. He worked for U.S. Limousines in New Hyde Park.
Several other family members in the limousine were badly hurt.
"This decision affirms what the evidence made clear at trial: Martin Heidgen murdered Katie Flynn and Stanley Rabinowitz," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. "While their families will never be able to fill the holes that Heidgen left in their lives, it is my fervent hope that they see today's decision as a great victory in the fight against drunk driving."
Jillian Harrington, Heidgen's lawyer, said she intends to appeal the decision of the state supreme court's Second Judicial Department, based in Brooklyn, to a higher court.
Heidgen's appeal centered on case law related to the meaning of "depraved indifference."
Numerous witnesses testified to seeing Heidgen driving his pick-up truck the wrong way in the southbound lanes at speeds of about 70 mph, ignoring "wrong way" signs along the way. At no time did Heidgen appear to slow down, the witnesses said, even as he closed in on the limousine's approaching headlights.
Citing eyewitness and expert testimony, the majority justices ruled that Heidgen, although more than three times over the the legal drinking limit, was capable of understanding his actions could have catastrophic results, according to Thursday's ruling.
The dissent, issued by Justice Jeffrey Cohen, argued Heidgen was too drunk to posses the mental faculties to commit depraved indifference murder. Cohen said would have reduced the charges to manslaughter.