Convicted DWI Murderer Takes Case to Appeals Court

Martin Heidgen will argue he didn't know right from wrong after getting into his pickup and driving while drunk.

Martin Heidgen. (Credit: NCPD)
Martin Heidgen. (Credit: NCPD)

A man convicted of murder after driving drunk and killing a Lido Beach girl is making a second attempt to have his conviction overturned.

Martin Heidgen, who is one of the only people nationwide to be convicted of depraved indifference to murder after a drunk driving crash, will plead his case to the Court of Appeal, New York State’s highest court, at 2 p.m. Tuesday. He is prepared to challenge whether a person can be so drunk that they are unable to form a state of mind to act depraved. Prosecutors in the case argue that someone who is drunk can act depraved and that Heidgen knew what he was doing the night of the crash, according to News 12.

The arguments in the case will be livestreamed today at 2 p.m. at http://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/, according to the Nassau County District Attorneys Office. 

In October 2006, after a five-week trial, Heidgen was convicted of second-degree murder after he drove drunk in a pickup truck traveling in the wrong direction on the Meadowbrook Parkway on July 2, 2005. His vehicle slammed into a limousine that was carrying 7-year-old Katie Flynn, her family and driver Stanley Rabinowitz, 59, of Farmingdale, who were heading home from a wedding in which Katie was the flower girl. Katie and Rabinowitz were killed in the crash.

Police said Heidgen's blood-alcohol content registered .28 percent, well above the legal limit of .08 percent. He is serving a prison sentence of 18 years to life for the crime.

In September 2011, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled to uphold Heidgen’s conviction after his defense attorney tried to argue that his client should have been tried on on the lesser charge of manslaughter, not murder, and that police mishandled blood evidence that measured his level of intoxication.

In January 2012, an attorney for the Flynn family reached a $1.3 million settlement in a lawsuit against Heidgen and the Mineola-based limousine company, U.S. Limousine Service, in which the girl and her family were riding in. Katie’s parents, Neil and Jennifer Flynn, and her grandparents, Christopher and Denise Tangney of Long Beach — who were all in the limousine at the time of the crash — sued Heidgen and the Mineola-based limousine company for damages.

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Castles Made of Sand October 08, 2013 at 09:14 PM
EnsPulver, you are correct, it is murder if the deaths resulted from a depraved heart or extreme recklessness. Then I suppose just about every drunk driving fatality should be considered murder. If the charge of murder is what it takes to be a deterrent then so be it.
Christopher October 09, 2013 at 08:54 AM
A lot of the comments are on point. I must add. Never in the history of these tyoes of accidents have their been a conviction for Murder. Lets go Back to Rick Lazio Drag Racing in Point Lookout he killed the Bride and Groom was only given 1 1/3-4 for vehicular homicide. I understand what people are saying. This case in no way was second degree murder whatsoever. Vehicular Manslaughter at best. The DA in the Second Jusicial Department did not win unanimously which can be a problem in NY high Court. We will have to wait n see.
Ocean Gypsy October 09, 2013 at 09:31 AM
Again, driving is a privilege, not a right. Responsibilities are involved. The man chose to drive drunk. We have laws regarding that. What else is there to see? Two people are dead and many lives changed forever. Vehicular manslaughter or 2nd degree murder...that car was used as a weapon whether or not he knew right from wrong. My thoughts.
tom brennan October 14, 2013 at 09:43 PM
why was the limo company sued that driver did nothing wrong that is a shame. also why was the drivers family sued he was behind the wheel.
anonymous October 15, 2013 at 05:50 AM
Tom...great question. One that I raised when the lawyers announced "successfully" suing the limo company. Seems (according to Patch posters at the time) that the family was co-opted by lawyers and forced to sue. The only way to temper some of their grief was to sue the limo company who's employee was also killed. I'm definitely in the minority here but the family lost a little bit of my sympathy with their greed.


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