New York Appeals Court Rules On DWI Murder Convictions

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Tips

The New York State Court of Appeals wisely upheld the convictions of two Long Island drunk drivers, Martin Heidgen and Franklin McPherson  along with a Staten Island Woman, Taliyah Taylor  whose defense attorneys argued that their clients were too drunk to know right from wrong when got into their vehicles and therefore should have their murder convictions overturned. RID fully supports this ruling.

Here are the three cases:

On July 2, 2005, after a night of drinking in a Manhattan bar, Martin Heidgen of Valley Stream drove the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Parkway at high speed for about two and a half miles before crashing head-on into a limousine bringing home a family from a wedding, killing limousine driver Stanley Rabinowitz and seven-year-old passenger Katie Flynn.  Passengers Neil, Jennifer and Grace Flynn, as well as Chris and Denise Tangney, were also injured.

In October of 2006 after a five week trial, Heidgen was convicted of second degree murder. Heigden’s BAC was .28 at the time of the crash, more than three times the legal limit of .08. He is currently serving a term of 18 years to life for the crime.

On October 18, 2006, after consuming drugs and alcohol, Taliyah Taylor drove the wrong way on Forest Avenue on Staten Island — doing between 80 and 90 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone — striking and instantly killing pedestrian Larry Simon.  She continued driving the wrong way before hitting a red light and striking a car stopped at the light, injuring Vincent and Jeanette Cavalieri.

On October 19, 2007, after consuming alcohol and leaving a nightclub around 3:15AM, Franklin McPherson drove the wrong way on the Southern State Parkway at high speed for about five miles before crashing head-on into a vehicle and instantly killing its driver, Leslie Burgess. A recently fired handgun, ammunition and cocaine were also found in his vehicle.

Defense attorneys have long argued that murder shouldn’t be applied in these cases that involve high BACs of their clients. The logic being that they are so intoxicated they lose their judgment. This ruling is an important one in that it will provide clarity and set precedence for holding those who choose to drink and drive, accountable.

Doris Aiken is the President of RID (Remove Intoxicated Drivers), the original anti-DWI national organization in the United States. You can find more information at rid-usa.org.

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