Six Helmick jurors speak to The Daily Sentinel
It took 10 minutes for Miriam Helmick to get her first conviction Tuesday.
Shortly after assembling for deliberations on a wet and snow-packed morning on the third floor of the Mesa County Justice Center, the seven men and five women who decided Miriam Helmick’s fate needed only a few moments to make a decision on one count, according to the jury’s foreman, Tom, 62.
Guilty on false reporting.
The relatively minor charge, which was all but conceded by Helmick’s defense, related to a greeting card found by Helmick in June 2008; an ominous threat on the card was targeted at the “grieving widow.”
It was the same greeting card Helmick was seen on a video surveillance at a local store buying at Orchard Mesa’s City Market.
Six men who served as jurors in Helmick’s four-week trial spoke to The Daily Sentinel on the condition their full names not be published.
Their thoughts on Miriam Helmick?
Four of them answered together: “Liar.”
“Psychopathic liar,” added Tom. “If the truth sounded better, she’d still lie.”
Butch, 60, described her as “very scheming.”
“Very manipulative,” he said. “Her stories were not consistent.”
In a case delivered by prosecutors over 13 days consisting largely of circumstantial evidence, at least one juror said he was swayed by one item of physical evidence.
Tom said he wrote “smoking gun” in his notebook next to one evidence item: gunshot residue.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent testified that residue was found on one of Helmick’s shoes she wore June 10, 2008, as well as a tiny speck on the steering wheel of the car she drove that morning to run a series of errands. Helmick’s defense highlighted the fact that no residue was found on her shirt, blue jeans, face or hands.
“Hands can be washed,” Tom said.
Tom and others also found compelling the testimony of FBI agent Bob Morton. The agent, qualified as an expert, testified that the Helmick’s Whitewater home appeared to show a staged burglary. Helmick’s defense mocked the testimony from “the man who can’t be wrong.”
“The jewelry box (in master bedroom) wasn’t dumped out, and there was obvious access to firearms in that house,” Tom said.
Calvin, 42, said the bulk of the jury’s time was spent sorting through the 11 forgery counts. They found her not guilty on one count of forgery related to a $5,000 check, which prosecutors alleged Miriam Helmick had forged on her husband’s personal checking account.
Calvin and others gathered around 9:30 a.m. and worked their way through the lunch hour.
Word that a verdict had been reached was sent to local media around 3 p.m.
The morning’s blizzard had some questioning whether they’d meet at all; one female member of the jury was snowed in at her Palisade home and phoned the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department for a ride to court Tuesday morning.
She made it, thanks to the deputy.
For Butch, a key moment arrived with testimony about Miriam Helmick’s purported attempts to perform CPR on her wounded husband, after she claimed she found him just before noon June 10, shot in the head in the couple’s kitchen.
Prosecutors asserted she made no attempts to revive her husband, pointing to the lack of blood on her clothing.
When Helmick testified in her own defense, she said she was hampered in CPR efforts because of an injury to her arm suffered in an ATV accident.
She made the claim for the first time last Thursday from the witness stand.
When they went back and watched Miriam Helmick’s videotaped interview with investigators on June 10, Helmick showed no sign of a wounded arm, several jurors noted.
Gale, 45, said Helmick’s testimony may have damaged her defense. None of the jurors said they found her credible. Butch said he was “put off” by Helmick’s demeanor on the witness stand, while more than one called her an actress.
“She just presented herself in not a very forceful way,” Butch said. “I didn’t feel she was there, in the moment.”