Helmick trial testimony to begin

Testimony will start Thursday in the murder trial of 52-year-old Miriam Helmick.

A jury of 10 men and six women — four are alternates — was seated around 4:20 p.m. Tuesday in District Judge Valerie Robison’s courtroom.

Opening statements will be at 10 a.m. Thursday because the Mesa County Justice Center is scheduled to close today in observance of Veterans Day.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret will make the prosecution’s opening remarks.

Prosecutors are expected to open their case with testimony from the law enforcement officers who first responded to a report of a shooting at the Whitewater home of Miriam and Alan Helmick on June 10, 2008. Testimony for the prosecution also will include findings of the Mesa County coroner.

Helmick is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her second husband, Alan. She also is charged with attempted murder and 11 counts of forgery.

When testimony begins, Helmick won’t be wearing cosmetics, Robison decided Tuesday.

The judge denied a defense request that Helmick be allowed to apply makeup and style her hair before coming to court.

Robison last week ruled Helmick could wear makeup, provided it conformed to the policies of the Mesa County Jail. Sheriff’s officials later objected to the request, saying eyeliner pencils and makeup are considered contraband and are off-limits to all inmates.

Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle on Tuesday joined the objection, suggesting the move is a “slippery slope.”

“It sets a precedent and could pose problems for future cases,” Tuttle told the judge.

Prosecutors last Thursday offered no objection when the issue was raised. Helmick’s public defenders cited law suggesting Helmick’s right to a fair trial could be an issue.

While saying she sympathized “as a woman” with Helmick’s wishes, Robison said she has found no legal precedent to override the jail’s policies.

Helmick has been jailed on $2 million bond in Mesa County since her arrest in December 2008.


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