updated 2/28/2007 5:52:07 PM ET 2007-02-28T22:52:07

A drunken driver responsible for the deaths of a Long Island limo driver and a 7-year-old flower girl heading home from a wedding was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years to life in prison.

Martin Heidgen showed no reaction as he was sentenced. Neil Flynn, whose daughter Katie died in the July 2005 crash, grimaced at the sentence.

Prosecutors and family members had appealed for the maximum 25-year sentence on Heidgen's two murder convictions, a rare verdict in a drunken-driving case.

The prison term was handed down after eight relatives of the two victims, 59-year-old Stanley Rabinowitz and 7-year-old Katie Flynn, spent hours telling Heidgen about their losses.

Katie's grandfather punctuated his comments by cursing at Heidgen.

Heidgen had downed at least 14 drinks when his pickup truck, driving the wrong way on a Long Island parkway, struck the wedding limousine head-on.

Katie's mother, Jennifer Flynn, spoke of society's unwillingness to deal with drunken driving and suggested it should be treated as a public health scourge the way cancer or other diseases are viewed. She said that her little girl "was murdered needlessly."

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