$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.

Sheriff’s deputy arrested, accused of stealing cash, credit cards from crime scene

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 11:00 PM

An Orange County deputy was arrested on allegations he stole cash, credit cards and a wallet from a crime scene.
WFTV.com
An Orange County deputy was arrested on allegations he stole cash, credit cards and a wallet from a crime scene.(WFTV.com)

An Orange County deputy was arrested Tuesday on allegations he stole cash, credit cards and a wallet from a crime scene Sunday.

Deputies said the deputy, Joseph Haddad, responded to a burglary. The case evolved into a narcotics investigation in which the person who reported the burglary, Sammy Shehata, was arrested for allegedly possessing marijuana.

>> Read more trending news

Shehata asked deputies if he could gather his belongings and while doing so noticed his wallet, $1,750 and credit cards were missing.

Shehata said Haddad was inside the house when he went to retrieve his things.

“He even said, ‘Well, I don’t have it.’ It’s not like I asked him if he had it,” Shehata said.

An investigation was launched against Haddad, and Osceola County deputies discovered the cards had been used in their jurisdiction.

Shehata said that, when he got out jail, he had notifications from his bank that his credit cards had been used, so he reported it to the sheriff’s office.

Osceola County deputies assisted with the investigation, which led to Haddad’s arrest after a search of his home.

He was booked into the Osceola County Jail on a grand theft charge.

According to the charging affidavit, Haddad and his wife were seen on camera using Shehata’s cards at Target and Walmart in Osceola County.

The report said they bought a baby crib, baby monitor, clothing, household goods and other baby supplies.

When questioned, Haddad told investigators he accidentally took the wallet while processing evidence and that it wasn’t until he got to Target that he realized he was using someone else’s credit card.

Haddad was relieved of duty without pay and was stripped of his law enforcement authority.

He was hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in April 2016.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings released a statement about the incident Wednesday.

“The facts in this case are troubling to me. The Orange County Sheriff's Office is not a place for a liar or thief to work. I am committed to ensuring that such individuals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that they will be fired.”

No charges in Mason hot car baby death: Mom ‘made a horrible mistake’

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 11:18 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 7:19 PM

WATCH: Warren Co. prosecutor discusses charges in Mason baby death

No criminal charges will be filed in connection with Sofia Aveiro’s death on Aug. 23 after the 14-month-old girl was left for nine hours in her mother’s car in the parking lot of the P&G Mason Business Center.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he didn’t believe the potential charges matched the legal standard.

“The closest charge that might be applicable is involuntary manslaughter … and the closest felony is endangering children, where parents create a substantial risk,” he said Wednesday during a press conference to explain his decision. “However, in both of these, the mental state of a parent must be reckless.”

“Recklessness is more than a mistake, even if it’s a deadly mistake,” Fornshell said. “And there’s no evidence that she acted with heedless indifference.”

Evidence mother Karen Osorio-Martinez knew Sofia was in the car would have met the heedless indifference standard, Fornshell said.

Osorio-Martinez and her husband still must live with the realization that her negligence caused the toddler’s death from hyperthermia, Fornshell added.

“There’s nothing any law is going to do more than they are going to punish themselves for the rest of their lives,” he said.

MORE: ‘She was adorable’: Neighbor recalls Mason baby left in mom’s hot car

Osorio-Martinez left their Mason home with Sofia, intending to drop her at day care, but forgot and drove to work at the corporate complex on Mason-Montgomery Road, arriving about 7:30 a.m.

Leaving work, she was walking to the car when her husband, Henrique Aveiro, called to alert her that Sofia was not at day care when he went to pick her up. The mother realized their only child had been left strapped into her car seat.

Osorio-Martinez called 911 about 5 p.m., and the child was pronounced dead after emergency workers arrived.

RELATED: Butler County nurse invents iPhone app to prevent hot-car deaths

Prosecutors found her actions failed to meet the legal standard for involuntary manslaughter or child endangering.

Both charges required more than negligence, Fornshell said.

“There is no doubt Sofia’s mother made a horrible mistake,” Fornshell said.” We found no evidence that the mother acted with heedless indifference.”

Fornshell said he talked with the parents on Wednesday morning and detected a “mild amount of relief.”

Osorio-Martinez, a native of Puerto Rico, was also upset having lost contact with family as hurricanes pummeled the island.

“This was something that was weighing heavily on her,” Fornshell said.

“They are extraordinarily emotional,” he added.

The parents could not be reached for comment, but P&G issued a brief statement.

RELATED: Federal law change could mandate warning systems to prevent hot car deaths

“We are continuing to support the family through this difficult time. We do not have additional information to share,” Tressie Rose of P&G Company Communications said via email. “We also do not have a statement from the family to pass along.”

Neither P&G nor Fornshell elaborated on his comments that the parents planned to work with the company to prevent other babies from dying in hot cars.

Police conducted an investigation, seizing her cell phone and car, as well as a shopping bag and purse-style bag to check for “any medications or illegal narcotics that could show an altered mental state of Karen Osorio-Martinez.”

On Wednesday, Fornshell said they also watched more than eight hours of surveillance video from the parking lot.

A search warrant affidavit filed by Mason police indicated Osorio-Martinez left Sofia inside her 2011 Nissan Cube for about nine hours. The rear-facing car seat was located in the back of the vehicle behind the driver’s seat, according to court records.

EARLY REPORT: Mason mother was running late in child’s hot car death

“Upon speaking with Ms. Osorio-Martinez, she advised that she was running late to work and usually drops Sofia off at daycare. It was also determined that Sofia’s father, Aveiro, attempted to pick up Sofia up at daycare and was advised she was not there, so he contacted his wife as she was leaving work,” the affidavit said.

On Wednesday, Fornshell said Osorio-Martinez wasn’t actually late, but was later than usual, after letting her daughter sleep in and working from home before heading toward the day care center.

MORE: Mason child left in vehicle for more than 10 hours

Fornshell said he sided with Ohio lawmakers who had considered toughening the law, but left the reckless disregard standard.

He questioned if Ohioans wanted to “criminalize negligence.”

Fornshell said most parents have been guilty of negligence on occasion, sometimes resulting in harm to their kids.

“Are we going to criminalize every time a child gets hurt?” he concluded.

New vehicles would be outfitted with a warning system to help prevent children from dying in hot cars under legislation passed with bipartisan support this month in the U.S. House.

If the bill becomes law, drivers turning off their cars would be reminded by an alarm to check the back seat for children. Thirty-nine children died of heat stroke, and one died of hypothermia, in cars in the U.S. last year, according to KidsAndCars.org, a group that tracks such deaths.

Judge revokes probation, orders teen to serve at least a year for role in Ronnie Bowers’ death

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 5:21 PM

Judge revokes probation, orders teen to serve at least a year for role in Ronnie Bowers’ death

A 15-year-old who violated probation the day he was released from a juvenile facility now must serve at least one year behind bars for his role in the shooting death last September of Ronnie Bowers in Kettering.

Malik Devon Harris in February pleaded guilty to one count of robbery, tampering with evidence and aggravated menacing in the 16-year-old Fairmont High School junior’s death. Today, his probation was revoked and Harris was sentenced to serve a year up to age 21 at the Department of Youth Services, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

Releated: Murder indictment issued against Kylen Gregory in Ronnie Bowers’ death

Bowerswas fatally shot Sept. 4, 2016, after leaving AlterFest with a group of friends. One of his friends had an ongoing dispute with another group, and words were exchanged when they saw each other at the Alter High School festival. After Bowers and his friends left AlterFest, they were trying to drive away. Harris and two other teens were with Kylen Gregory, who is accused of shooting at the back of Bowers’ car, hitting him. Bowers succumbed to his injuries two days later.

Related: Teens who testify against shooter get maximum sentences

Harris served seven months at the Center for Adolescent Services. He was released Sept. 5 and placed on probation with electronic home detention. He also was ordered not to use social media. However, the same day he used social media at home and his probation officer reported it, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“Obviously, this defendant did not appreciate the leniency he received when the judge granted him probation and did not act responsibly in violating the terms of his probation the very same day he was released,” Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. stated.

Woman pleads to lowest count in case involving 26 pounds of meth

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 6:31 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 3:46 PM


            Haley Bigelow
Haley Bigelow

UPDATE (3:25 p.m.)

Haley N. Bigelow pleaded and was found guilty Wednesday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court of interstate traveling to support a business enterprise involving controlled substances.

Bigelow, 21, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12 for a crime that carries a zero- to 5-year sentence. “Guilty,” Bigelow said when asked by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose for how she pleaded to the lowest of three indicted counts.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dismissed counts of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Rose said a pre-sentence report will be compiled.

RELATED: 26 pounds of meth found in vehicle on I-70

Defense attorney Aaron Durden said his client may qualify for a “safety valve” provision in federal sentencings.

That definition is for low-level participants in drug cases in which no one was harmed, the person has little or no criminal history, the person did not use violence or a gun and the person did tell the prosecution everything they knew about the offense, according to the Families Against Mandatory Minimums website.

Assistant U.S. attorney Laura Clemmens read a summary of the statement of facts, which indicated Bigelow was recruited to drive from Arizona to Ohio for redistribution. Law enforcement said they seized 26 pounds of methamphetamine from a car occupied by Bigelow and co-defendant Dennis Olinger.

Bigelow also admitted to bond violations for testing positive for drugs three times. Rose ordered Bigelow to take part in a 7-day detox and 28-day in-patient program.

RELATED: DEA used GPS tracker to arrest suspected local drug trafficker

Rose said it was a glass half full or half empty situation.

“If you do mess up, you will be in jail that fast,” the judge said, snapping his fingers.

After Bigelow’s hearing, co-defendant Waiman Yu was granted a continuance of his trial, which was to begin Sept. 25.

Instead, the date was pushed back to Nov. 13 to allow for a possible resolution.

(ORIGINAL STORY)

A 20-year-old woman federally indicted on three counts related to law enforcement finding 26 pounds of methamphetamine in a vehicle is scheduled to change her plea today.

Haley N. Bigelow and co-defendant Waiman Yu were to go to trial Sept. 25 in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

But Bigelow now is scheduled to appear for a change of plea, while Yu is scheduled for a meeting hearing, both today.

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

In a motion to continue, Yu’s attorney wrote that plea negotiations are ongoing, but likely wouldn’t be completed before trial.

Another co-defendant, Dennis Olinger, pleaded guilty of knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. Olinger is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12.

Olinger, 40, and Bigelow were charged after a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task force wrote in a criminal complaint that the two were stopped on Interstate 70 after speeding.

Assistant U.S. attorney Brent Tabacchi has said 26 pounds of meth could have a street value of nearly $400,000, though prosecutors say values vary greatly depending on several criteria.

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The criminal complaint said that after the Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper stopped the blue Volkswagen Passat in the eastbound lane of the highway in Preble County, Olinger could not provide a driver’s license.

Olinger said he and Bigelow, whom he identified as his girlfriend, were on their way back from a fair in Missouri, according to the complaint.

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The DEA officer wrote that Bigelow could not provide Olinger’s name to the trooper and that she said they were just friends.

Within two “traps” or hidden compartments in the car, the officer wrote, troopers found 26 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and also located about $2,000 in Bigelow’s purse.

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. Yu had been driving the Passat before Olinger and Bigelow were stopped in it.