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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: Tuesday, May 15, 2018 @ 11:37 AM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 6:35 AM
— A Heat Advisory has been issued for the Miami Valley Monday from noon until 8 p.m.
Temperatures will be in the low 90s with heat index values reaching 100 degrees, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.
The heat index is a “feels like” temperature.
High heat, humidity and sunshine can allow your car to rapidly heat up. At 93 degrees, in about 15 minutes, the inside of your car can get to about 110 degrees.
Heat inside cars can be deadly to both pets and children within a matter of minutes.
In 2016, Governor Kasich signed a law protecting good samaritans who need to smash a car window to rescue a child or pet in a hot car.
A child dies in a hot car every 9 days according to kidsandcars.org, and organization aimed at raising awareness to prevent more tragedies.
>>RELATED: Boy, 3, died in hot car in Moraine in 2016
Ways to help you prevent hot car incidents:
If you discover a pet or child trapped inside a hot car, call 9-1-1. If a child is in imminent danger, break a window.
Published: Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 1:33 AM
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2018 @ 11:32 AM
OAKWOOD — UPDATE @4:40 a.m. 5/18/18
Ra Shonda M. Fears, 46, of Dayton, remains in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital.
UPDATE @ 11:30 a.m. 5/17/18
Ra Shonda M. Fears, 46, of Dayton remains in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital after a vehicle crash Friday morning left her trapped for over an hour in Oakwood.
UPDATE @ 4:45 p.m. 6/16/18
The Dayton woman trapped in her car for more than an hour after she hit the center concrete island and overturned on Far Hills Avenue at Old River Trail is fighting for her life.
The driver, identified as 46-year-old Ra Shonda M. Fears by the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Dayton Post, remained in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital.
The crash is under investigation and Fears has not been cited, troopers said.
UPDATE @ 5 a.m. 6/15/18
A woman was headed north on Far Hills Avenue when she hit the center concrete island early Friday and flipped her vehicle onto its top at Old River Trail in Oakwood.
She was trapped for almost an hour, and crews had to use a wrecker to life the car and free her.
The woman was in critical condition when she was taken to Miami Valley Hospital.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Dayton Post is investigating the single-vehicle crash reported around 1:15 a.m. Troopers said speed in this 35 mph zone may have played a factor.
The crash shut down Far Hills Avenue in both directions, but southbound lanes were opened at 3 a.m. and all lanes were open at 5 a.m.
UPDATE @ 3:01 a.m. 6/15/18
A woman was taken to Miami Valley Hospital with injuries considered life-threatening following a crash in Oakwood early Friday.
Troopers said speed appears to be a factor in the single-vehicle crash. It’s unknown if drugs or alcohol played a part.
Southbound Far Hills Avenue is now open. Northbound lanes remain closed.
UPDATE @2:25 a.m. 6/15/18
A driver that was trapped for over an hour in an overturned vehicle has been extricated.
A wrecker had to lift the car so crews could free the driver, according to our crew on the scene. The driver was taken to a local hospital with unknown injuries.
Crews are working to extricate a woman trapped in a car following a crash in Oakwood.
The crash was reported around 1:15 a.m. in the area of Old River Trail and Far Hills Avenue. The car is upside down, and crews have been unable to make contact with the trapped female driver.
Far Hills Avenue is closed in both directions.
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:00 AM
WEST CHESTER TWP. — While secret shoppers are a real job, a man was bilked out of almost $12,000 when he tried it using his West Chester Twp. bank account.
A 43-year-old Kentucky man signed up to be a secret shopper and was told to deposit checks in his account, keep a certain amount for himself and put the rest in another bank account, according to township spokeswoman Barb Wilson.
Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 5:42 PM
A wreck in Middletown on Sunday afternoon sent a motorcyclist to the hospital via helicopter.
Officials were not immediately able to provide many details about the crash, which happened at Grand Avenue and Burton Road, according to an Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher. The patrol was assisting Middletown police at the scene.
Officials believe it involved a collision with a vehicle, and the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, a dispatcher said.