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Drunk 24yr old man murders 7yr old girl


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Main source: Newsday.com


Here are two articles to give you a general idea. There are several articles about this matter, but these two should give you the basic idea and the link above should give you plenty to read.


Source: Newsday.com


The night that Katie was killed

Surviving relatives of crash in which young girl died testify how their happiness was shattered in an instant


Newsday Staff Writer


September 12, 2006


Jennifer and Neil Flynn told a Nassau jury yesterday in wrenching detail how a relaxing limousine ride home after one of the happiest days of their lives last summer ended in an instant when a pickup truck driving the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Parkway smashed head-on into them, wrecking their lives as thoroughly as it did the limo.


"It was quiet, and then the car exploded," said Jennifer Flynn, 37, testifying on the first day of the murder trial of Martin Heidgen, 25, of Valley Stream. He is charged with driving drunk the wrong way on the Meadowbrook July 2, 2005, killing the Flynns' daughter, Kate, 7, and the limo driver, Stanley Rabinowitz, 59, of Farmingdale. The family was returning to Long Beach from the Bayville wedding of Jennifer Flynn's sister, Lisa.


Jennifer Flynn looked straight at the jury as she described the moment she realized her daughter, who had been sleeping quietly on one of the limo's seats, was dead.


"Her hair was over her face, and I went to pick her up," Flynn said, speaking without emotion. "But then I realized it was just her head. I put my hand under her neck ... and I stated to the car that Kate was dead. It was more as a statement than as a scream."


"No, not Kate," wailed the girl's grandfather, Chris Tangney, who was suspended amid the bent metal, and whose foot was nearly cut off, Jennifer Flynn said. Jennifer's husband, Neil, just kept saying, "Katie angel, Katie angel, Katie angel," Jennifer Flynn said.


Then Jennifer Flynn said she asked about the driver.


"They said he was dead, too," she testified.


Yesterday, all four adult survivors of that horrific moment testified about what they remember. Heidgen, dressed neatly in a checkered tie and navy blazer, watched the testimony solemnly. Jurors seemed to listen in rapt attention, as family and friends of Rabinowitz and the Flynns wept quietly.


Jennifer and Neil Flynn and Denise and Chris Tangney all testified about their debilitating injuries. Neil Flynn said, "My physical injuries are the least of my problems."


He remembered on the witness stand how Katie and her younger sister Grace - who survived the crash - had played on the beach, collecting seashells. He said he told Katie that she could eat anything she wanted, and that he had picked her up and danced with her at the reception.


"Katie said it was the best day of her life," Neil Flynn said.


Denise Tangney, 57, Katie's grandmother, said she saw Heidgen's headlights from her seat at the back of the limo.


"I said to myself, 'Oh my God. We're going to get hit,'" she said. "I didn't have time to say, 'Hold on.'"


Prosecutor Bob Hayden said in his opening statement that what Heidgen did amounts to murder - a rare charge in drunken driving cases and, some experts say, a tough one to prove. Hayden said Heidgen drank enough to put his blood-alcohol level at about three times the legal limit of .08 percent at the time of the crash. Later, Hayden said, Heidgen told a police officer that he had been in "self-destruct mode."


"He ignored horns" of passing cars, Hayden said. "He ignored headlights. He never swerved. He never wavered. He just kept coming."


But Heidgen's lawyer, Stephen LaMagna of Garden City, said while his client may have made mistakes, he did not commit murder. He said Heidgen, who had moved to the area about eight months earlier, was lost and slowed down as soon as he realized he was driving in the wrong direction. LaMagna said friends will testify that Heidgen was in a cheerful mood when he got into his car, not a self-destructive one.


On his way in to court in the morning, Heidgen expressed concern for the victims.


"I just want to say that my thoughts, my feelings, my prayers are with the other families involved, and that's from my heart," he said.


But Heidgen's words meant nothing to the Flynns.


Jennifer Flynn, wearing a colorful beaded necklace that Katie had made for her, said outside court that she has no doubt Heidgen is a murderer.


"He aimed at us with 4,000 pounds of steel," Jennifer Flynn said. She then drew a distinction between the trial and life since the crash. "The trial is difficult. Life is unbearable."


Relatives describe moments of pain, anguish


From testimony yesterday:


Jennifer Flynn


Katie's mother


"I was sitting on the guardrail with Kate, and I held her. My husband climbed out of the car and he was screaming for Kate, not knowing she died. Then he collapsed."


"It seemed like an hour. I watched the car, I watched the lights, I watched the policemen, I watched the confusion."


"I started to cry [after an officer said it was time to go to the hospital], because I knew I would never hold her again. Then I got up and I went by stretcher to the ambulance."


Neil Flynn


Katie's father


"My world exploded. It came to an end. ... I believe I was knocked unconscious. I smelled smoke. I tasted blood in my mouth. I heard my wife say over and over again, 'Neil, Katie's dead.' I said, 'No, she's not dead, she's just hurt real bad. We'll get help.' She said, 'No. She's dead.' ... I guess I knew Katie was dead, but I didn't want to believe it."


"I said, 'Somebody please help my Katie.' And then at some point a cop pulled me out, put me on a stretcher and put me in an ambulance."


Of his father-in-law Chris Tangney: "He's ruined. He's a shell of himself. He burst into tears the first time I saw him. All he could say was 'We did everything right. How could this happen?'"


Denise Tangney


Katie's grandmother


"It [the wedding] was fairy-tale-like. It was a beautiful day. I was on a high, just looking at all of my family, just happy."


As Heidgen's headlights approached: "It was a breath's instant of knowing we were going to get hit."


Since the crash: "I can't cook. I can't garden. I can't food shop. I can't love my husband. Life is different."


Chris Tangney


Katie's grandfather


"I noticed in front of us a bright light was coming toward us. As it came down the incline, the one light drifted apart and I could tell it was a car or something."


"The impact threw my wife and myself forward. My granddaughter, it tore off her head."


Scene of heartbreak


Where Katie Flynn, 7, and family members were riding.


Limo driver Stanley Rabinowitz died.


Police with Jennifer Flynn, grieving over daughter Katie.


Martin Heidgen's 1999 Chevrolet, which was spun around by the force of the crash.


Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

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Source: Newsday.com


Crash trial a time of sadness, rage


Newsday Staff Writer


October 12, 2006, 8:40 PM EDT


It was the last day of the trial before the case went to the jury. Clutching her chest, Rita Rabinowitz looked up at the skylights in the hallway of the Nassau County courthouse, and with tears in her eyes let out a guttural wail. It was a cry of anger, frustration and loss that was a month in the making, ever since the trial of Martin Heidgen forced her to rein in her emotions.


In the past four weeks, dozens of relatives of crash victims Stanley Rabinowitz, 59, the driver, and Katie Flynn, 7, have packed the courthouse during a roller coaster of a trial. Displays of grief in all of its forms have erupted daily. For some, such as Rita Rabinowitz, 62, getting through the trial meant trying to keep emotion tucked away.


For some family members, their rage at Heidgen has seeped out as each day of the trial forced them to relive their grief. "You get past some of the hurt and you start to get over it, and then you've got to come back to court and all that hurt is back in your face and it doesn't stop," said Stanley's son Keith Rabinowitz, 32, of Copiague. "If ... [Heidgen] had died [in the crash], it would have been a blessing for all of us."


Rita Rabinowitz's outburst this week was a rare show of the pain she's kept under wraps.


"I was so traumatized and in such shock that I was just going through the motions," said Rabinowitz, of Farmingdale, Stanley's wife. "Now, with this trial, it's making it real for me. I'm dealing with reality for the first time."


Heidgen, 25, of Valley Stream, is accused of murder for driving drunk the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Parkway on July 2, 2005, and hitting a limousine that was returning from a wedding. Injured were Katie's parents, Neil and Jennifer Flynn, and Jennifer's parents, Chris and Denise Tangney, all of Long Beach.


The torment of waiting for a verdict since Wednesday is the latest burden the families bear. The trial was emotionally charged from the start, with early testimony from crash survivors about Katie's decapitation and their own horrific injuries. Family members are quick to correct themselves if they utter the word "accident," substituting "crash" or "murder." Neil Flynn and other relatives speak with an infuriated certainty when they call Heidgen a murderer. Adding to their ire has been a seemingly unemotional Heidgen.


"There are people out there who send letters saying how sorry they are who were never even involved in an accident, because they have a heart," Keith Rabinowitz said. "He was the one who caused this and he still doesn't show remorse."


Heidgen's victims are not only the deceased, relatives say, adding his actions that night shattered the lives of those who sit in the brown vinyl seats of the courthouse every day. Liz Hudak, 52, Katie's great-aunt, was one of the first to arrive at the crash scene, sitting beside Jennifer as she cradled her daughter's head in her hands.


The crash, she said, "essentially killed my family."


"My brother has the body of a 78-year-old and he's 58," she said of Chris Tangney. "He's aged 20 to 30 years because of this ... Neil was a young, athletic guy. Now he's limited forever. ... [Heidgen] not only killed Katie, he killed the rest of them, too."


Feelings are normal


All of the emotions experienced during the trial, from sadness to rage, are to be expected and vary individually, said Mark Lerner, a Commack psychologist and traumatic-stress consultant. "I've seen one person react emotionally whereas another might be impacted cognitively, while another might be withdrawn," Lerner said. "These are all very normal reactions in the face of a very abnormal experience."


For Hudak, solace was found temporarily in pen and paper. Every day in court, Hudak filled three notebooks with every detail of the trial -- and hasn't reread a word. "I needed to do something other than look at my family because I look at them and they're heartbroken," she said. "And if someone can't attend one day, I can be the memory for my family if they want it."


Part of the impetus to attend the trial was to hear the details she had to block out to get through the ordeal. But some days were harder than others. When the video from the limo camera was played, Hudak ran from the courtroom in tears.


Hudak was one of the last people to leave the courtroom every day. She waited until Heidgen said goodbye to his family and was led away in handcuffs. "When he turns to see his parents, I want him to see somebody in my family's face," Hudak said. "I want him to remember, because of what I have to remember every night."


Trial's physical demands


Slogging through day after day of the trial has also been physically demanding on the family, said Hudak's sister, Gail Schwarting, 46, of South Hempstead. Chris and Denise Tangney are in constant discomfort sitting for such long stretches, she said. Even those not involved in the crash are hurting, she said. The stress of the trial has led to canker sores, blisters, shingles, stomachaches and weight loss.


But something positive may come from this, she said. Although some family members said they see a murder conviction as inevitable, Schwarting said the family is prepared for a conviction on lesser charges.


"We're realists," she said. "How much worse can it be than losing Katie? If he gets one year or a million years, it doesn't change that for me, but I think maybe if he gets a lot of time, somebody might be affected by it and make a conscious decision not to drink and drive."


Schwarting, a workers' compensation claim examiner, said she has had to adjust her hours because of the trial, often working nights and weekends to be in court. "Some days, it's just too much," she said. But she said she forges on to provide emotional stability for her 12-year-old daughter, who was devastated by Katie's death.


"Going to the trial felt like the only thing we could do," Schwarting said. "Martin Heidgen killed Katie and Stanley, but we can't let him keep killing us."


Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

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