Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why the Heidgen Verdict Won't Stick

Nassau County (New York) District Attorney Kathleen Rice gets a temporary victory and a bully pulpit for her crusade against driving while Intoxicated with the conviction of Martin Heidgen for murder by depraved indifference. I wonder (again) how she will explain the waste of taxpayers money when the case is overturned on appeal.

I know this is difficult to understand. Depraved indifference to human life is a tough matter and the NY State Court of Appeals has made it as clear as they can. Here is the answer, yes the person who drives purposely the wrong way down a one way street at full speed not intending to kill anyone but not caring if he does and realizing he might is guilty of Depraved indifference. The person who either does not perceive the danger to others because he is intoxicated or metal ill, or lost, is not guilty of depraved indifference murder.See this decision

As written on a bulletin board service I am privileged to subscribe to, if a person goes up on top of a high rise and drops a bowling ball on a crowd below, that's depraved indifference. If he is so drunk that he goes to the top of the high rise and throws the ball down thinking he is in a bowling alley, he's not guilty. (A That Lawyer Dude thanks to Sufolk County criminal defense attorney John Powers for the example.)

Heidgen would have plead guilty to a offer of Manslaughter 2 which would have put him in for 5-15 years. It would have been the right solution to a really bad case, and saved the county taxpayers hundreds of thousands and maybe a million dollars.
Today Rice won, tomorrow taxpayers will lose. Politics as justice, Nassau's new standard.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: The jury foreman claims she and another juror were coerced into finding the murder verdict. Another juror who voted for conviction says that the descriptions of violence in the jury room were correct but not coercive (yeah right) and he also admits those jurors who were for a Murder 2 conviction refused to debate (deliberate)the issue! You read it here, this verdict is getting overturned on appeal.
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