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Published: Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 10:40 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 01, 2017 @ 7:52 AM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
The Dayton mother accused of shooting two of her children in the head is scheduled to appear in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court today.
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 and Kaiden died at Dayton Children’s Hospital three days after they were shot.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 7:31 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:35 AM
DAYTON — UPDATE @ 3:05 a.m.:
The man who said he shot himself Friday night in Dayton has been identified.
David Metcalf, 51, said he shot himself in the arm at his residence in the 2800 block of East Third Street then ran to his mother’s house, according to police.
Police recovered ammunition and suspected cocaine at Metcalf’s home following further investigation, a release stated.
It remains unknown if the man did shoot himself.
FIRST REPORT (Fri.):
A man who was shot in the arm tonight ran inside his mother’s house.
Police and medics were called around 6:35 p.m. to the 3100 block of East Third Street after a woman said her son was shot and was bleeding profusely.
He was taken by medics to Miami Valley Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.
The man told police he shot himself in the 2800 block of East Third Street, according to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center. The area outside a home near the corner of East Third and Jersey streets was surrounded in yellow police tape.
The man’s name and age were not available.
A woman inside a residence where the shooting happened had a broken nose, and police said it’s under investigation whether the man shot himself.
Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 11:12 PM
DAYTON — Crews were called late Friday night to a fire at a vacant house.
Flames were shooting from the two-story house when crews were called around 11 p.m. to 917 Lorain Ave.
We are on the way and will update this report as we learn details.
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Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 11:53 PM
JEFFERSON TWP. — Police are searching for a suspect who stabbed a man Friday night as he was was walking on Maeder Avenue.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched around 9:35 p.m. to the 20 block of Maeder Avenue, just off West Third St.
The victim was taken to Miami Valley Hospital. The stab would is not life-threatening, deputies said.
The incident remains under investigation.
Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 9:35 AM
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 9:00 PM
BUTLER COUNTY — UPDATE @ 9 p.m.
The owner of two emaciated dogs was arrested Friday night and charged with animal cruelty, according to Butler County Dog Warden & Humane Officers.
The “finder” of the dogs turned out to be the owner of the two female dogs that were brought Thursday morning by animal control officers to the Animal Friends Humane Society.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones identified 42-year-old Brian Trauthwein as the owner of the two dogs: Porche, a fawn/white boxer; and Chloe, a black/white pit bull mix.
The Butler County Dog Warden & Humane Officers are reaching out to the community via Facebook to find the owners of two emaciated dogs.
The two dogs are female and appear to be older. One of the two appears to be extremely malnourished. They were found Thursday in the 1000 Block of Franklin Street in Hamilton.
“These dogs are safe at the Humane Society and are receiving medical treatment, but they have a long way to go,” the warden posted to Facebook.
One of the dogs needs timed feeding and monitoring and is receiving special treatment and care at the home of a deputy dog warden, the post said.
Those who feel they have information on who the owner is of either dog are asked to contact Supervisor Kurt Merbs at 513-785-6542.