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New York Court Weighs Intoxication Defense In Deadly Crashes

3 Drivers Claim They Were Too Intoxicated To Know Right From Wrong
File Photo: Martin Heidgen, Katie Flynn

File Photo: Martin Heidgen, Katie Flynn

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Attorneys for three people convicted of murder in deadly crashes are urging New York’s highest court to throw out those convictions, arguing their clients were too intoxicated to know the threat to others.

The Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday about whether Martin Heidgen should have been convicted of depraved indifference murder for a notorious crash on Long Island.

Heidgen drove his pickup the wrong way on the Meadowbrook State Parkway in July 2005 and hit a limousine leaving a family wedding, killing 7-year-old flower girl Katie Flynn and driver Stanley Rabinowitz. Heidgen had blood alcohol content of 0.28 percent.

Heidgen– who is serving 18 years to life in prison — appealed the conviction two years ago, but the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled to uphold it. The case was the first in Nassau County in which a drunken driver was convicted of murder.

“We have to look into the mind of the defendant, and there’s no proof here that he knew he was going in the wrong direction,” his attorney, Jill Harrington, told the panel Tuesday.

The panel also heard arguments in two other cases.

Taliyah Taylor in 2006 sped 80 mph down Forest Avenue in Staten Island without headlights, ran a red light and killed a pedestrian. She had taken an Ecstasy pill, smoked marijuana and drunk beer.

Franklin McPherson drove the wrong way on the Southern State Parkway in 2007 and hit a jeep, killing the driver. His BAC was 0.19 percent.

Rulings are expected next month.

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