A New York state court ruled this week against Martin Heidgen’s appeal to have his murder conviction reduced to manslaughter, for driving drunk the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Parkway in 2005 and killing two people.
The panel of judges from the Supreme Court’s Appeallate Division voted 3-1 in favor of upholding the murder conviction that Heidgen received. He is currently serving 19 years to life in prison.
On July 1, 2005, after drinking at a Manhattan bar, Heidgen, of Valley Stream, was driving his pickup truck on the Meadowbrook Parkway when he crashed head-on into a limousine. The crash killed the limo’s driver, 59-year-old Stanley Rabinowitz, and passenger 7-year-old Katie Flynn, of Lido Beach. Heidgen was driving was north in the southbound lanes.
He had a blood alcohol level of .28, more than three times the legal limit. In upholding the murder conviction, Judges Peter Skelos, Thomas Dickerson and Loenard Austin stated that Heidgen acted with depraved indifference to human life, a presented a “grave” risk of death or serious injury to others.
Dissenting Judge Jeffrey Cohen supported Heidgen’s appeal to have his second-degree murder conviction reduced to second-degree manslaughter, saying Heidgen's intoxicated state did not give him the mental capacity to commit a "depraved indifference" crime.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who pushed for the murder conviction, praised to outcome of the appeal. "This decision affirms what the evidence made clear at trial,” she said. “Martin Heidgen murdered Katie Flynn and Stanley Rabinowitz. 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.”
Heidgen’s attorney, Jillian Harrington, said her client now plans to appeal to the highest court in the state, the New York State Court of Appeals. Should that fail, Harrington said there are options at the federal level.
“We are extremely disappointed,” she said of the Sept. 13 decision. “We plan to continue our fight to prove that Martin was convicted of the wrong crime.”