Lawyers for three intoxicated drivers convicted of second-degree murder are arguing their clients were too drunk or high to understand the consequences of their actions at the time of the crashes.
The New York Times reports that the murder convictions are up for review in front of New York’s highest court.
When prosecuting drunk driving cases as second-degree murder, prosecutors have the burden of proof in showing that the defendant willingly had a “depraved indifference” for human life.
Lawyers are arguing that these three drivers were so drunk or high they weren’t aware of what they were doing.
All three of the drivers whose cases are under review killed at least one person while driving under the influence — two cases involved alcohol, and one involved ecstasy.
NBC News reports that defence attorney Jillian Harrington argued on behalf of Martin Heidgen, who killed a limo driver and a 7-year-old girl as he was driving drunk the wrong way down a road: “We have to look into the mind of the defendant and there is no proof here that he knew that he was going in the wrong direction.”
Staten Island assistant district attorney Anne Grady presented this counter argument, according to the Times: “This is not just a human tragedy. A hurricane is a human tragedy. But a hurricane doesn’t make choices. These defendants did.”
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