Jurors saw through Helmick’s stories
Miriam Helmick and her defense team took a big chance in allowing the murder suspect to testify in her own defense about the death of her husband, Alan Helmick, at their home in Whitewater in June 2008.
Based on what jurors told The Daily Sentinel’s Paul Shockley Tuesday that gamble backfired.
Rather than strengthening her defense, Helmick’s appearance on the witness stand led jurors to view her as “manipulative,” “a liar,” and even “a psychopathic liar.” And her conflicting stories about exactly what happened the day Alan was shot helped lead to Helmick’s conviction Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder, as well as attempted murder, 10 counts of forgery, one count of false reporting to authorities and one count of committing a crime of violence.
It was a strong and appropriate verdict. We sincerely hope it brings a measure of peace and justice to Alan Helmick’s family.
Obtaining a conviction in this case was no slam dunk, because the prosecution’s case depended on circumstantial evidence, and proving anything beyond a reasonable doubt without even having a murder weapon is a tall order.
Investigators with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department who painstakingly assembled that evidence, deserve credit for their hard work. So do Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle and his staff, who presented the evidence to the jury and raised red flags about Helmick’s credibility during cross-examination. District Judge Valerie Robinson kept the trial on track, with limited interruptions. And all of the witnesses called by the prosecution helped strengthen the case.
But we would be remiss if we didn’t give particular credit to the seven men and five women who served on Helmick’s jury. They basically put their lives on hold for the better part of a month to fulfill this critical civic duty. They sat through hour after hour of complicated testimony, especially related to Helmick’s financial dealings, and the presentation of sometimes macbre evidence.
Because of long-standing evidentiary rules, the jurors heard nothing about the death of Helmick’s previous husband in Florida, a death officially listed as a suicide, but one investigators in Colorado believe may have been a murder committed by Helmick.
Even without that evidence, however, the jurors saw through Helmick’s conflicting stories about what occurred on June 10, 2008, and put aside her convoluted claims that all of the witnesses who testified against her were either lying or in error, and only she was telling the truth.
The right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers is the foundation of this nation’s criminal justice system. And, although juries sometimes make mistakes, far more often than not, they diligently sift through the evidence presented and reach the correct verdict.
We believe that’s what happened in this case. And we congratulate the jurors for their dutiful work to reach that verdict.