Appeals court considering ‘too drunk’ for murder charge as defense in fatal DUI case

Posted at 9:01 AM, Oct 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-09 09:01:20-04

MERRICK, Long Island (PIX11) – Lawyers for three people convicted of murder in fatal drunk driving crashes say the convictions should be thrown out because they were too drunk to know what they were doing.

The Martin Heidgen, Katie Flynn case has become a rallying point for the movement against drunk driving with her mother and father appearing in public service announcements. In one New York State Department of Motor Vehicles spot, Jennifer Flynn says of the day her seven-year-old daughter served a flower girl in a wedding, “Kate could not have been happier.”

In the same announcement her father added, “She told me it was the best day of her life. She told me as I placed her in the limo for the ride home.”

But that day ended in horrible tragedy when a drunken Martin Heidgen of Valley Stream who was driving his pickup truck the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Parkway slammed into the limo killing the driver Stanley Rabinowitz and Katie. His blood alcohol level was threes times the legal limit on that day in July 2005.

In the public service announcement the couple described the moments after the crash. Neil said he heard his wife’s screams. Jennifer said, “I was looking on the floor for Kate to make sure she was okay.  Her head had been torn from her body.”

But lawyers for Heidgen and two others in similar cases are argued Tuesday before a State Court of Appeals in Albany that their clients may have been too drunk to  know the risk of their actions so they shouldn’t have been charged with depraved indifference murder. In Albany, Katie’s father said afterward he was astonished the judges would even consider the case according to Newsday adding, “It’s tragic that people could drive while intoxicated and that could actually insulate you from a murder charge.”

The Appeals Court is expected to rule on the case next month.