Monday, December 27, 2010

The Absurd Case of Dale Helmig: Conclusion

Dale Helmig was convicted of murdering his mother based on no physical evidence and no eyewitness evidence. None. Zero.

Dale Helmig was convicted based only on his alleged inside knowledge of the crime and his alleged suspicious behavior. He was sentenced to life in prison.

And just to be clear, this happened right here in The United States of America. You can read the details in my three previous posts here, here, and here.

Missouri's case against Dale Helmig was absurd from the beginning, and it has finally crumbled.
But on Monday [December 13], DeKalb County Senior Judge Warren McElwain wrote that Helmig was innocent by clear and convincing evidence, and he was released from the Crossroads Correctional Facility in Cameron.

"This morning I had a feeling something was going to happen today," said Helmig, who was released after changing out of his prison jumpsuit and into his street clothes and a brief, 10-minute meeting with Judge McElwain. "I never gave up good and bad days, never gave up."
In response to this turn of events, the Attorney General for Missouri said:
As the chief legal representative of the State of Missouri, I am always pleased to see an innocent person set free. This case only highlights the need for us to accelerate our efforts to identify those we have wrongfully incarcerated, and see that they too are freed."
I'm only kidding. As expected, Missouri fought tooth and nail to keep the evidence of Helmig's guilt from even coming before Judge McElwain during the evidentiary hearing. Even now, after Judge McElwain has declared Helmig innocent and set him free, Missouri does not want to discuss the evidence. Instead, they intend to appeal on the basis that Judge McElwain did not have the authority to free Helmig.

As is usually (almost always) the case, a wrongfully convicted person is freed in spite of the State, freed only because of the unrelenting, selfless actions of our citizenry. In this case, I offer my congratulations to Sean O'Brien and all the attorneys, paralegals, and students working with the Midwestern Innocence Project. Amazing work!

Of the many, many, many cases out there, I chose to write of Dale Helmig because his case is not too distant from one that is very important to me. Dale Helmig spent his 14 years of wrongful imprisonment at Crossroads Correctional Center. That is the same "correctional center" where Byron Case is scheduled to undergo correction for the remainder of his days.

Byron Case knew Dale Helming in passing. During one of our phone conversations, Byron told me about Dale being featured on America's Most Wanted, not as a criminal, but as the first ever innocent person to be featured on the show.
“America’s Most Wanted,” scheduled for broadcast [in May 2009] will devote an hour to the investigation and trial of Helmig, now 53, who in 1996 was convicted of murdering his mother. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The show is designed to capture bad people and put them away,” said producer Dave Bolton. “This case jumped to our attention because it looked like a huge miscarriage of justice because the bad guy who did the crime was still out there and the innocent guy was put in prison for a crime he did not commit.”
I continue to work with Byron in the hope that some day he too may be freed from his wrongful imprisonment.

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