A man convicted of murder in a drunken driving crash pleaded not guilty Friday to a new charge that he tried to foil a DNA test by slipping someone else’s saliva into his mouth.
Martin Heidgen’s attorney protested that his client was being targeted by prosecutors unhappy that Heidgen did not get the maximum sentence in the crash that killed a wedding chauffeur and flower girl.
Heidgen was indicted Thursday, after prosecutors said a DNA sample ordered during his trial revealed the presence of not only Heidgen’s genetic profile, but that of another inmate incarcerated with him.
In addition to the 18-year sentence he is serving for his conviction on murder, driving while intoxicated and other charges, Heidgen could face an additional four years in prison if convicted of evidence tampering. His attorney, Stephen LaMagna, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Thursday.
Prosecutors said the Long Island man drove the wrong way down a highway after a night of heavy drinking, slamming into the limousine.
He was charged with murder — a rarity in DWI fatal crashes — after prosecutors said he showed a “depraved indifference to human life” by ignoring drivers who flashed their headlights and honked their horns as he drove the wrong way into traffic on the Meadowbrook Parkway in July 2005.
Heidgen is appealing the conviction.
At least 14 drinks in
Blood taken from the scene and confirmed as Heidgen’s revealed the blood-alcohol level to be 0.28, more than three times New York’s legal limit of 0.08. Prosecutors estimated Heidgen consumed at least 14 drinks before getting behind the wheel of his pickup truck.
Killed were Katie Flynn, 7, and driver Stanley Rabinowitz. Five of the girl’s relatives were injured.
Since the crash, Katie’s parents, Jennifer and Neil, have advocated for stricter drunken driving laws. They told their story on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” last spring and successfully lobbied lawmakers in Albany to strengthen DWI laws.