$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.

Woman who allegedly helped topple North Carolina Confederate statue arrested

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 4:00 AM

WATCH: Protesters Topple Confederate Statue In North Carolina

The woman who allegedly climbed a ladder to the top of a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, and put a rope around its neck so the gathered crowd could pull it down has been arrested.

>> Watch the clip here

Takiyah Thompson, 22, who reportedly admitted she was the one who climbed the ladder — and she said she’d do it again — was taken into custody shortly after protesters held a news conference Tuesday afternoon at North Carolina Central University, according to WTVD in Raleigh-Durham.

She was charged with disorderly conduct by injury to a statue, damage to real property, participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500, and inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500.

>> WATCH: Protesters topple Confederate statue in North Carolina

Those who took part in the toppling of the Confederate statue held the news conference Tuesday to call for any charges related to the incident to be dropped. However, according to WTVD, more arrests could be coming. The video showing the toppling of the statue went viral.

Thompson was given a $10,000 unsecured bond. The World Worker’s Party Durham chapter, of which Thompson is a member, has set up a legal defense fund to help fight her case in court.

>> There are hundreds of Confederate monuments, not just in the South

“The people decided to take matters into our own hands and remove the statue,” said Thompson, a student at N.C. Central University. “We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted.”

More statues could be attempted to be torn down by protestors, according to World Worker’s Party activist Lamont Lilly, who said, “I hope so,” when asked by ABC 11 if more statues would be toppled. She said the group believes the statues are monuments to racism.

>> Read more trending news

The monument that was ripped down was of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle. It was erected in 1924, and inscribed on it are the words “In memory of the boys who wore the gray.”

“I feel like it’s important to tear down these vestiges of white supremacy,” Thompson told WTVD.

13-year-old boy dies from heroin, fentanyl overdose

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 6:02 AM

What You Need To Know About Heroin

A 13-year-old boy found dead in June in New Jersey died from a deadly mixture of heroin and fentanyl, the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office has announced in a press release.

According to KYW, how the teen, Vincent Weiner, came into possession of the drugs is unclear. His mother, Jamie Lund, pleaded for the public to find answers about who is supplying such young children with deadly drugs.

“Anyone, anyone who has any information on where he got it, please please please contact me or Chief Leusner or [any] of the officers of the Middle Township Police Department. Whoever is supplying these babies with drugs, needs to be stopped!” Lund wrote in a Facebook post. “My heart is broken, shattered into a million pieces. Thank you all for your continued support.”

>> Mom shares heartbreaking photo after daughter dies from heroin overdose

The Middle Township Middle School student was found unresponsive in bed on June 4 in a Rio Grande home, Ocean City Patch reported. Lund said her son had been bullied in the weeks leading up to his death. He was on his school’s wrestling team and was a Cub Scout.

“The two weeks or so prior [to Vincent’s death] there had been unusual behavior at school, it was discovered that he had been cutting [himself to self-harm],” Lund told news station WCAU. “And stories of bullying in school began to surface.”

>> Doctor saves woman overdosing on flight

Fentanyl is showing up more and more in overdose deaths as a drug being mixed with heroin. The prosecutor’s office said in a news release that fentanyl is an extremely powerful and deadly controlled substance, approximately 100 times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl is legally available in different forms such as intravenous injections, skin patches, dissolving oral films, lozenges or pills. In its most common illegal use, the substance is converted into a powdered form by drug distributors and mixed at dangerous and unmeasured levels with heroin, authorities said.

>> Read more trending news

According to Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor, there has been an increase in the number of heroin bags submitted to the county, which have tested positive for the presence of fentanyl, WCAU reported.

Prosecutors said in their statement that “no one is immune from this epidemic, whether young or old.”

What is Fentanyl?

Suspect clad in hospital scrubs for 3 Lebanon robberies is in jail

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 12:09 AM

Robert Blevings
WARREN COUNTY JAIL
Robert Blevings(WARREN COUNTY JAIL)

A Lebanon man wearing hospital scrubs is accused of showing a weapon Tuesday night to rob Domino’s Pizza.

Robert Blevings, 50, has an arraignment scheduled for this morning in Lebanon Municipal Court. He was booked early Wednesday into the Warren County Jail on suspicion of aggravated robbery.

RELATED: Warren County Jail bookings

Police were called around 11:50 p.m. Tuesday to the pizza restaurant, 915 N. Broadway St., in Lebanon, to an armed robbery. The suspect fled in a dark-colored sport-utility vehicle.

Police spotted a 2011 Chevrolet Traverse leaving the area of Domino’s. After a short pursuit, the driver stopped and was taken into custody without incident, according to a police Facebook post.

READ: Man pleads guilty in Warren County child sex case

Police said they found a loaded .38 revolver, blue bandanna and a plastic bag containing cash and receipts from Domino’s Pizza in Blevings’ car.

Blevings also matched the description of the suspect in the armed robbery July 25 of The Black Barn, 1161 W. Main St., and the July 30 attempted armed robbery of LaRosa’s Pizzeria, 1871 Deerfield Road, according to Lebanon police.

READ: Franklin father charged for role in son’s scalding death gets 3rd trial

A search of Blevings’ apartment led police to seize items related to the Black Barn and LaRosa’s incidents, including a firearm, clothing and property. Blevings allegedly admitted to committing the two robberies and attempted robbery.

Police said additional charges against Blevings are pending

DEA used GPS tracker to arrest local suspected drug trafficker

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 5:42 PM

Waiman Yu
Waiman Yu

A Drug Enforcement Agency sting led to the arrest of a local man suspected of being part of a large drug trafficking organization for nearly 20 years.

The man — who was once sentenced to six years for conspiracy to commit murder in Greene County — faces up to life in prison if he’s convicted of the crimes he’s indicted on in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

Waiman Yu, 39, was arrested July 17 after the DEA put a GPS tracking device on his car and stopped him with drugs in his Hyundai Elantra, according to a federal search warrant affidavit and return.

RELATED: 26 pounds of crystal meth seized by troopers on I-70

Yu also is connected to a recent case in which 26 pounds of crystal meth was seized during a traffic stop in Preble County, according to court documents.

Yu pleaded not guilty during his Wednesday arraignment to charges of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of meth, possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and felon in possession of a firearm.

Two of those counts include minimum sentences of 10 years to life while the gun charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.

RELATED: Drug cases ‘plaguing our region,’ U.S. attorney says

Task Force Officer Steven Duteil wrote that a source said in June that Yu was transporting a large amount of U.S. currency in a false gas tank from Ohio to California. The source reported Yu was back in Ohio a couple days later, Duteil wrote.

The affidavit said Yu was at the Knights Inn Motel in Miamisburg and preparing to go to Arizona to pick up heroin or fentanyl. The Volkswagen Passat he had been driving was later stopped with 26 pounds of crystal meth in it.

Dennis Olinger and Haley Bigelow, who were in the car, were charged in that case. Bigelow also pleaded not guilty during her Wednesday arraignment.

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

In establishing background, the agent also wrote that in 1998, the Dayton DEA had information that Yu was part of packaging and transporting 28 kilograms of cocaine from Ohio to Chicago and handling $500,000 at the direction of Eduardo Bonilla.

Bonilla was convicted in a Greene County murder case in the death of Mark “Corky” Miller and sentenced to life in prison. Yu pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit the murder that happened in Yu’s residence and served time in prison.

In June 2016, the DEA had surveillance on Yu meeting with suspected drug traffickers from Columbus at the same Knights Inn, but the surveillance was terminated when nothing criminal was seen.

RELATED: Local drug trade ‘bigger problem than we thought’

Duteil wrote that he obtained a federal warrant for installation of a tracking device on the Passat, which was stopped June 21 in Preble County.

The task force officer wrote that Olinger said he was part of a drug distribution ring operated by a Hispanic male who was incarcerated. Duteil wrote that he believed that person to be Bonilla.

The DEA then got approval to place a GPS device on Yu’s rented Hyundai Elantra, which the agency did from July 12 to July 17.

RELATED: Illinois man sentenced to 11 years for $250K worth of meth

Duteil wrote that vehicle traveled to Arizona for a brief stay and then returned to Ohio. Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers stopped the car July 17.

A drug dog alerted to the presence of narcotics and law enforcement discovered a kilogram of heroin hidden inside the vehicle.

Yu wore orange Shelby County Jail clothing during his arraignment Wednesday.

Bigelow was not in custody before Wednesday’s hearing. Assistant U.S. attorney Brent Tabacchi said she was in treatment and had been compliant, so her bond would be continued.

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Pretrial conferences were scheduled for both Yu and Bigelow for later this month.

A bill of information for possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of meth has been entered for Olinger, who is being held in Butler County Jail.

Tabacchi, who earlier estimated the meth’s street value to be at least $400,000, said the 26-pound seizure was one of the largest in Ohio.