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$1M bond for Dayton mom accused of killing children

Published: Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 10:40 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 01, 2017 @ 7:52 AM

The one-minute video arraignment of Claudena Helton from court Thursday morning.

UPDATE@3:57 p.m.:

A judge on Thursday set bond at $1 million for the Dayton mother facing a possible death penalty trial for allegedly killing two of her children by shooting them in the head.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Krumholtz entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Claudena Helton, 30, during her video arraignment. Helton didn’t speak during the proceeding.

PREVIOUS: Helton faces death penalty specifications

Helton is being held in Montgomery County Jail before a trial on aggravated murder charges with death penalty specifications. A scheduling conference was set for June 15.

Helton’s 8-year-old daughter Khmorra and 6-year-old son Kaiden were both found shot in their heads in May before dying three days later at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

RELATED: Helton tied to second molestation report

Defense attorneys Anthony VanNoy and Kimberly Melchor stood beside Helton in jail and stood mute on the charges, prompting Krumholtz to enter the not guilty plea for Helton.

Helton was indicted on two counts of aggravated murder of a person younger than 13 along with gun specifications and aggravated circumstances that make Helton eligible for the death penalty.

RELATED: Police say mother said she shot kids to ‘save them from the evils of the world’

VanNoy — who indicated he may ask for a mental health evaluation of his client — has asked prosecutors to provide a bill of particulars, which would define the nature of the offense(s) charged and the conduct of Helton.

Among the 10 specific things VanNoy asked for is any written or recorded statements of Helton, any written summaries or oral statements made by Helton to prosecutors or law enforcement officers and other evidence from the case.

RELATED: Dayton police chief says, ‘This is one of the hardest’

A complaint and affidavit filed by a Dayton police detective said Helton told police she acted against her children “to save them from the evils of the world.”

An email was sent to the Supreme Court of Ohio advising them that the case includes death penalty specifications, according to court documents.

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Police said Helton was naked when she was arrested and had made her 11-year-old daughter help drag the other children’s bodies outside after the shooting.

“The death penalty is not something we ask for in many cases; we use it very sparingly,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said Tuesday. “We reserve it for the most horrific and most shocking crimes, gut-wrenching crimes. This case meets those specifications and qualifies under the Ohio law.”

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DAYTON — UPDATE @ 8:44 a.m.

A not guilty plea was entered for Claudena Helton, accused of killing two of her children. Bond was set at $1 million. 

Her next court date will be June 15. 

Claudena Helton stood mute at her arraignment on aggravated murder charges. 

Prosecutors announced on Tuesday that Claudena Helton is currently facing death penalty specifications on her murder charges.

EARLIER REPORT

The Dayton mother accused of shooting two of her children in the head is scheduled to appear in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court today.  

Mother accused of killing two of her children will face

RELATED: Police: Mother said she shot kids to ‘save them from the evils of the world’

Claudena Helton, 30, is facing several charges including aggravated murder and assault charges, according to online court records.

PREVIOUS: Helton tied to second molestation report

  • Khmorra Helton, 8, and her 6-year-old brother Kaiden Helton were found shot in the driveway of their Lori Sue Avenue home on May 18 
  • Helton has been indicted on charges that include two counts of aggravated murder of a person younger than 13 
  • Helton is eligible for the death penalty

Khmorra and Kaiden died at Dayton Children’s Hospital three days after they were shot.

RELATED: Dayton boy, allegedly killed by mom, claimed he was molested by school janitor

911 AUDIO: 2 children shot near Dayton school

“The death penalty is not something we ask for in many cases; we use it very sparingly,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said. “We reserve it for the most horrific and most shocking crimes, gut-wrenching crimes. This case meets those specifications and qualifies under the Ohio law.”

RELATED: Police respond to shooting scene, neighbors react

Helton was naked when she was arrested and made her 11-year-old daughter help drag her other children’s bodies outside after the shooting. She is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court and is in Montgomery County Jail on a $1 million bond.

RELATED: Dayton police chief says, ‘This is one of the hardest’

Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl, who attended Tuesday’s press conference, earlier said it appeared there were some mental health issues in play in what he called a horrific, brutal, irrevocable crime.

“When you look at what someone does, so many times I think we see the more bizarre nature of the act itself, people want to say, ‘Well, there’s something wrong with them,’ ” Heck said. “But that’s not what we’re talking about.

“We’re talking about whether someone is legally insane and therefore not responsible for their actions. Under the law, until proven otherwise, the defendant is presumed sane and competent to stand trial.”

Contributed Photo/Montgomery County Jail

Defense attorney Antony VanNoy said he was disheartened that prosecutors felt they had to rush an indictment with death penalty specifications.

VanNoy said there are questions as to whether Helton could knowingly waive the various speedy hearing, indictment and trial guarantees. He said Helton’s competency may have to be determined before the case gets much beyond the arraignment stage.

“It’s a tragedy,” VanNoy said. “Everyone I’ve talked to — neighbors, friends, family — all say that she’s always been someone who’s tried to be a good parent. But there may be some things that went on more recently that would suggest that she was not in the right frame of mind when this happened.”

Heck said prosecutors and police had to move quickly because Helton hadn’t agreed to any time waiver.

“These charges and specifications are filed now in order to simply preserve the right to ensure justice for these young children,” Heck said. “That’s what’s so important, given the situation that we have now.

“We want to ensure justice, on behalf of the community, on behalf of Chief Biehl and the Dayton police department, on behalf of my office, that we ensure justice is given to these victims.”

VanNoy declined to comment on any cases in Helton’s criminal record. Helton at least twice has filed claims that her now-deceased son had been molested; neither case resulted in a prosecution.

Helton is the second active Montgomery County Common Pleas Court defendant to be indicted on death penalty specifications. Muhammad Shabazz Ali is awaiting trial, accused of shooting to death three people in 2016 - Tammy Cox, 53, Michael D. Cox, 25 and Jasper Taylor, 74.

If her case gets to trial, Helton would be the first woman to face a death penalty case trial in the county since China Arnold.

Police talking with one adult, have not announced arrests.

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Arnold had trials in February 2008, September 2008 and May 2011, ultimately being sentenced to life in prison after being convicted for murdering her 28-day-old daughter Paris Talley by placing her in a microwave and “cooking” her in August 2005.

VanNoy said he plans to meet with his client at least one more time before deciding if he will file to request Helton’s competency to be examined.

“We don’t believe that our client could have made a decision to harm her children in this fashion,” VanNoy said. “We believe there’s something else going on.”

Heck said Helton is “entitled to receive the death penalty” for killing her children.

“This is truly a horrible, gut-wrenching case,” Heck said. “The defendant — the person who had the responsibility and the person we look to to guard, safe-guard, take care of the welfare and protect these children — basically caused their death.”

Helton’s case has been assigned to Judge Dennis Langer.

Thief unwittingly leaves wallet, photo ID at crime scene

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 11:00 PM

A thief unwittingly turned himself in after leaving his wallet behind after leaving a Dayton store.

Police said they were dispatched to Dollar General on 2312 N. Main St. in Dayton around 8 a.m. Saturday, and found a wallet left behind by one of the suspects. Police found several items with the suspect’s name on them, including a photo ID. 

The second suspect was identified as a heavyset man between 30 and 40, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt. The suspect ran away on foot south through the nearby alley, appearing to have several items hidden under his sweatshirt. 

According to reports, police found hangers with five children’s outfits near the wallet, as well as three packs of Ivory soap and a Halloween mask.

Dayton K-9 unit searching for armed robbery suspect

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 9:32 AM
Updated: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 10:31 AM

UPDATE @ 10:32 a.m.

Police continue to search for the suspect in a reported armed robbery at a Dayton Dollar General Saturday morning.

Dispatchers said police have yet to find a person matching the description of the suspect.

INITIAL REPORT

Dayton police are searching for a man who reportedly robbed a South Gettysburg business at gunpoint Saturday morning, according to dispatchers. 

Crews were dispatched to the Dollar General at 888 South Gettysburg Avenue around 9:12 on a reported armed robbery. 

Initial reports indicate a man in a black ball cap robbed the store and left on foot in an unknown direction. 

Dispatchers reported police are using a K-9 unit to search for the suspect in the area. 

We will continue to follow updates in this developing story.

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Florida man arrested after bombs, ammo, school maps found in home

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 9:55 PM

Bombs, Ammo, School Maps Found In Florida Home, Man Arrested

A Florida man was arrested after homemade bombs, an AK-47 assault rifle, ammunition and school maps were discovered inside his bedroom. 

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a news conference Thursday that deputies were set to search the home Randall Drake, 24, of Dunedin, Florida, shared with his parents for a child pornography investigation.

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During a search of Drake’s bedroom on Wednesday, authorities said detectives found explosives and numerous firearms in a locked closet, The Associated Press reported.

The weapons included the following:

  • An AK-47 rifle with a 60-round clip
  • A .308-caliber rifle
  • A .50-caliber pistol
  • A 12-gauge shotgun
  • Numerous other handguns
  • About 15 knives
  • A baseball bat with protruding nails in it 
  • A crossbow
  • Brass knuckles
  • A container of gunpowder
  • More than 2,300 rounds of ammunition
  • Three incendiary devices
  • A homemade silencer
  • Tactical vests

Detectives also said they found a map and aerial images of an elementary and middle school in Tampa, Florida, as well as the Hillsborough County Water Treatment Plant. According to deputies, journals and a handwritten letter that talked about revenge were also discovered.

In this undated photo released by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, a weapons cache is shown in the home of Randall Drake.(Pinellas County Sheriff's Office via AP/AP)

Gualtieri said his office is trying to figure out why Drake had the incendiary devices and what he was going to do with them.

Drake has since posted $20,000 bond. He faces two charges of unlawfully making, possessing or attempting to make a destructive device.

Dayton thief drops T-bone steaks down his shorts

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 4:37 AM

Police are searching for a man who dropped three T-bone steaks down his shorts.

Officers were dispatched at 8:40 p.m. Friday to Groceryland, 1451 Troy St. in Dayton to a report of a theft.

The store manager told police he was walking down the meat aisle when he became suspicious by the behavior of a man talking to another customer. The manager later saw the man run out the front entrance. He ran after him, but lost sight of him after he went behind the store, according to a Dayton police report.

The manager showed police surveillance video footage, which shows the thief grab three T-bone steaks, which each cost between $10 and $20. Then, in a different aisle, the suspect places the steaks down his shorts, the report stated.

No arrests have been made.