North Carolina Man Sentenced to 18 Years to Life in Prison for Driving While Intoxicated and Fatally Striking a Motorist

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


North Carolina Man Sentenced to 18 Years to Life in Prison for
Driving While Intoxicated and Fatally Striking a Motorist

Victim’s Spine and Several Ribs Were Fractured from the Force of the Impact

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 43-year-old man was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for crashing into a vehicle on the Belt Parkway and fatally injuring the driver.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant turned his vehicle into a deadly weapon by combining drugs with alcohol, then getting behind the wheel. His reckless actions endangered many and caused an innocent man to be killed. He has now been held accountable for taking a life and destroying a family.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Milan Heggs, 43, of Raleigh, North Carolina. He was sentenced yesterday by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Evelyn LaPorte to 18 years to life in prison. He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in May 2017 following a jury trial. The defendant was adjudicated as a persistent violent felony offender and was facing a mandatory life sentence.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, shortly after midnight on April 30, 2015, the defendant crashed his speeding car into the rear of another vehicle on the Belt Parkway. The victim, Joe Cavera, 55, of Bayside, Queens, was stopped in traffic near the Pennsylvania Avenue exit on the eastbound lane. The force of the impact caused Cavera’s car to flip in the air and land on its roof. In addition to crashing into Cavera’s car, the defendant hit four other vehicles and continued driving. The defendant’s car finally came to a stop after sliding against a guardrail.

Cavera’s spine and several ribs were severely fractured, and he also suffered internal bleeding and cardiac arrest. The victim was pulled from the car by an off-duty police officer near the scene who performed CPR until medics arrived. The victim was transported to Brookdale Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

According to trial testimony, the defendant was asked to blow into a breathalyzer after officers observed that he appeared intoxicated. The defendant intentionally blew lightly into the breathalyzer which registered a low alcohol count. The defendant later complained of back and neck pain, and was transported to Brookdale Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

His blood alcohol level over three hours after the crash was measured at .10 and was estimated to be at approximately .16 at the time of the collision –twice the legal limit of .08. The defendant tested positive for methylone, also known as “bath salt,” a synthetic drug similar to Ecstasy.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Rene Plattner and Assistant District Attorney Robert Schwartz, of the Red Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Bureau Chief.