In Mineola New York a drunk driver was convicted of murder when he caused a crash which killed a limousine chauffeur and a passenger, a seven year old flower girl. The man has been serving time since the crash, but has recently been told he will serve an extra year for tampering with physical evidence in the case.
The drunk driver, Martin Heidgen, has admitted corrupting a DNA test during his initial trial by using someone else's saliva. Heidgen pleaded guilty last month to one count of tampering with physical evidence because he was trying to beat a DNA test. A Nassau County Court Judge added another year to the already 18 year sentence which Heidgen is serving for murder, driving while intoxicated, and other charges.
The DNA test was originally conducted as Heidgen's defence attorneys argued that the blood samples from the crash were incorrectly labelled and therefore should not have been admitted as evidence. To resolve the issue the judge ordered a DNA test to confirm the owner of the samples.
The first DNA test revealed two male genetic profiles, one belonging to Heidgen and the other to another inmate. The judge then ordered a second test which confirmed the blood belonged to Heidgen. The blood was an important piece of evidence in the limousine crash trial as it revealed that Heidgen had a blood alcohol reading of 0.28, more than three times the legal limit of New York of 0.08. From the blood alcohol reading, the prosecutors were able to estimate that Heidgen had consumed at least 14 drinks before getting behind the wheel of his pickup truck and hitting the limousine.
The accident occurred when Heidgen drove the wrong way down the highway and slammed head on into the limousine. While the conviction of murder was unusual in a car accident case, the prosecutors argued that Heidgen showed a ‘depraved indifference to human life' when he ignored other drivers flashing their lights and honking their horns as they tried to warn him he was on the wrong side of the road.
Unfortunately five other passengers in the limousine were injured in the crash and while Heidgen lived through the accident, it is reassuring to know he will be spending some, unfortunately not all, of his life in jail.