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February 28, 2007

Heidgen Sentenced to 18-Life

MINEOLA, NY - A Nassau County judge has sentenced Martin Heidgen, 25, of Valley Stream, to serve 18 years-to-life in prison after being convicted by a jury in October 2006 of two counts of murder, assault and Driving While Intoxicated.

District Attorney Kathleen Rice strongly recommended that Mr. Heidgen receive the maximum sentence of 25 years-to-life in prison.

Today’s sentencing marks the end of a prosecution that has taken nearly 20 months to complete.

In the early morning hours of July 2, 2005, Mr. Heidgen, operating a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck, and heading north in the southbound lanes of the Meadowbrook Parkway, collided head-on with a limousine driving a family home from a relative’s wedding on Long Island’s north shore. Killed instantly in the crash were seven-year-old Katie Flynn, the flower girl of the wedding, and limousine driver Stanley Rabinowitz. Severely injured was Katie’s father, Neil, as well as Katie’s grandparents, Chris and Denise Tangney.

At the defendant’s five-week trial in October of last year, the jury heard evidence that put Mr. Heidgen’s blood-alcohol concentration at .28, more three and a half times the legal limit, shortly after the crash. 911 calls from motorists and eyewitness testimony during the trial placed Mr. Heidgen’s truck on the Parkway in the wrong direction, traveling at more than 65 miles per hour, for approximately three miles. There was no evidence of Mr. Heidgen’s vehicle stopping, slowing, or attempting to get out of the way of numerous oncoming vehicles. Immediately following the crash, the defendant admitted to New York State Troopers he had been “in self-destruct mode.” The jury deliberated for four days before returning October 17 with unanimous guilty verdicts on the murder, assault and drunken driving charges.

Days later, attorneys for the defendant filed a motion seeking to set aside the verdict based on allegations of juror misconduct. After prosecutors conducted an exhaustive investigation of these allegations, and the court conducted a hearing regarding a portion of the allegations, Nassau County Court of Claims Judge Alan L. Honorof denied the motion in its entirety, paving the way for today’s sentencing.

Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the D.A.’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau, Maureen McCormick, and Assistant District Attorney Robert Hayden, also of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau, handled the case for the District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Heidgen is being represented by Stephen LaMagna, Esq., of Garden City.