Helmick sought insurance on husband before murder, DA says
Roughly six months before Alan Helmick’s death, Miriam Helmick had pushed to take out an insurance policy on her husband’s life, a Mesa County prosecutor told jurors Thursday.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret said that Alan and Miriam Helmick, at the end of 2007, sat down together with a local agent about a life insurance policy. Eret said jurors can expect to hear testimony that Alan Helmick “was not really interested,” while his wife was, “raring to go.”
Eret said the agent later received a call from Miriam Helmick, who asked about the possibility of a $1 million policy on Alan’s life. Helmick was told the policy could only go up to $250,000. When Alan Helmick failed to return numerous phone calls and e-mails, the agent again spoke with Miriam Helmick at a later date.
“Is there any way we can do this without him?” Helmick asked the agent, according to Eret. Helmick was told no.
“After that, (agent) never hears from the defendant again,” Eret said.
The prosecutor said Alan Helmick had taken out a $25,000 life insurance policy. Six days after his murder, Miriam Helmick called asking how she could collect the money, Eret told the jurors. Helmick was told she couldn’t because the policy was void after several monthly premiums went unpaid.
The insurance issues were among the few bits of new information on Thursday in the trial of 52-year-old Miriam Helmick, who is charged with first-degree murder in the June 10, 2008, shooting death of her husband, Alan, at the family’s Whitewater home. She is also charged with attempted murder and 11 counts of forgery.
Eret, whose opening remarks ran just over an hour, said the jury will hear from a man who went out on a date with Helmick in the fall of 2008 in Florida. Helmick, who prosecutors have alleged used the identity of Alan Helmick’s late first wife in order to get a job in Florida, met the man in an online dating service catering exclusively to millionaire men.
The man will testify that Miriam Helmick told him that Alan Helmick’s death was natural “and wasn’t that much of a shock,” Eret told the jury.
Alan Helmick was purposely isolated from family and business associates in his final months, and Miriam Helmick had sapped her husband’s bank accounts and was about to be exposed when she murdered him, Eret said.
“When someone on the path to loneliness crosses paths with greed, the results are devastating,” she said.
Helmick’s defense slammed law enforcement’s efforts on the case, saying they snared an innocent person in an investigation that quickly arrived at Miriam Helmick’s “presumption of guilt.”
Deputy Public Defender Jody McGuirk said investigators ignored a series of leads, including a white pickup allegedly spotted on several occasions in the couple’s Whitewater neighborhood. McGuirk said two people unaccounted for, both dressed in black, were also spotted in the area around 6 a.m. on the day of the murder.
“It doesn’t matter to them because they already had their suspect,” McGuirk said.
McGuirk told the jury Helmick will testify in her own defense.
McGuirk also acknowledged Helmick showed “horrible judgment” by essentially planting evidence in the case in the form of a greeting card.
Helmick had claimed she came home on June 26, 2008, finding the card tucked under her doormat. The card included a hand-written warning for, “The grieving widow,” and it said, “Allen was first — Your next! Run, Run, Run.”
Helmick is seen on video surveillance four days earlier buying the card.
Prosecutors used the afternoon’s testimony to focus on the scene of Alan Helmick’s death, showing the jury photos of his body lying in a pool of blood in the couple’s kitchen.
Near Alan Helmick’s lifeless body, several desk drawers are pulled open, but not otherwise disturbed. The contents of a kicked-over trash can are near Helmick’s body. A single shell casing is sitting on the floor.
Miriam Helmick on Thursday dabbed her eyes with a tissue as her 18-minute conversation with 911 operators was played for the jury.
Prosecutors used a series of witnesses to suggest Helmick made little, if any, attempts to revive her fatally wounded husband after phoning 911 to report what she said was a possible robbery just before noon on June 10, 2008. She’s heard sobbing on the 911 call as a dispatcher tries coaching her through CPR. At one point, she tells the dispatcher she’s following the instructions.
Former Mesa County Sheriff’s deputy John Brownlee, who was the first law enforcement officer at the scene, said he had been advised by dispatchers that Helmick was in the process of performing CPR on her husband. When he walked in the house, Helmick was kneeling to the side of husband’s body, but not performing CPR, Brownlee said.
Brownlee testified that she had no blood on her face, hands or clothing; no bloody towels were found in the home.
Dr. Robert Kurtzman, a forensic pathologist who examined Alan Helmick’s body, said he found no evidence of bruising or fractures on Alan Helmick’s chest, a common result of CPR.
Kurtzman testified he believes no attempt was made to revive Alan Helmick.
Steve Colvin, one of Helmick’s public defenders, suggested Helmick had no experience with CPR, and she was squeamish and tentative at the bloody scene.