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Update: Dale Helmig's Conviction Overturned

Update: 5/27/2009: Since this post was written, the state of Missouri appealed the granting of the writ and got the order granting bail reversed. The 8th Circuit reinstated Dale's murder conviction and the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert. America's Most Wanted will feature Dales' case Saturday, May 30, 2009.

Update: 9/29/05 U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Noce has granted Dale Helmig's habeas motion on the grounds that the jury was shown and utilized a map during deliberations that had not been introduced at trial. Details of the map were found by a student in the Illinois State University Innocence Project who interviewed jurors for a new documentary on the case. Dale's murder conviction and life sentence have been ordered vacated. He will be freed unless the state retries him within 90 days - or unless the State appeals. (The prosecutor says it will retry him within the time period unless it appeals.)

I just received the 60 page ruling from Paul Jay, the executive producer of the 2000 TNT documentary film on the case and now the founding Chair of Independent World News Televsion. I read it one sitting, and while I would have liked to seen support in the decision for Dale's factual innocence, I'm very happy for Dale that he got even one of his nine claims granted. I really do think he's innocent.

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(Original Post, 9/16/05)

TChris just wrote about a new documentary produced by the Illinois State University Innocence Project about Dale Helmig, who is serving a life sentence for killing his mother.

I am so happy to hear this. In 2000, I was part of a TNT documentary about Dale's case, Was Justice Denied? . It was a 90 minute docudrama that featured two cases of possible wrongful conviction - Dale Helmig and Beverly Monroe. Beverly Monroe has since been released. I hope it's Dale's turn now.

For the movie, in which I play myself, former Chicago prosecutor Charlie Stone and I travelled to Missouri. We met with Dale in prison, with his brother Richard, his brother's ex-wife, his father, the prosecutors (one of whom, Ken Hulshof, is now a U.S. Congressman and ran for office during Dale's trial), the original defense lawyer, his appeals lawyer and the judge. We re-investigated the crime, went through all the transcripts, and came up with the conclusion that Dale was innocent.

At the end of the show, e-mail addresses were provided for the Governor and others so viewers could write. A few weeks later, I did an online chat with Dale's brother Richard. You can read it here.

I hope the Innocence Project movie has more success than we did in publicizing the plight of Dale Helmig. I really do not believe he did, or even could have, killed his mother.

Update: One more news article:

Helmig’s case was the subject of a recent documentary by student filmmakers at Illinois State University. The film alleges that Helmig’s initial trial was riddled by a shoddy defense, selective presentation of evidence before a Gasconade County jury and an opportunistic prosecutor.

That prosecutor was Kenny Hulshof, a Republican who now represents Missouri’s Ninth District in Congress. Hulshof used Helmig as an example of his tough-on-crime credentials during his congressional campaign, the filmmakers charged, but Hulshof has rejected any link between the trial and the campaign.

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  • Re: Update: Dale Helmig's Conviction Overturned (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:56 PM EST
    I thought juries decided who was innocent or guilty, not attorneys and family members of the convict.

    Re: Update: Dale Helmig's Conviction Overturned (none / 0) (#2)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:56 PM EST
    Billy Boy, The jury decides based upon the evidence presented. Thank goodness they still have the ability to review cases. Do you think that every trial is conducted flawlessly? I have no where near that much faith in the legal systerm.

    Re: Update: Dale Helmig's Conviction Overturned (none / 0) (#3)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:30 PM EST
    Um, Billy, juries decide whether or not you're guilty. Whether or not you're innocent is for God and whoever else feels like tossing in their two cents. There's a pretty big difference.

    Re: Update: Dale Helmig's Conviction Overturned (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:30 PM EST
    I'd put it this way: Juries decide whether the state or government has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. A guilty verdict means the jury believes the burden has been met. Trials are really just a testing of the evidence.

    Re: Update: Dale Helmig's Conviction Overturned (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:30 PM EST
    Actually, I was referring to this line from the original post, "We re-investigated the crime, went through all the transcripts, and came up with the conclusion that Dale was innocent." He maybe innocent or not guilty or both. My point was that the author seems to blindly think that the reader will take for granted that since he and his team decided the defendant's innocence that is the only logical conclusion. If Dale was not given a fair trial and the Illinois State University Innocence Project not only discovered that but were instrumental in the conviction being overturned, I applaud them and congratulate Dale. If he did not commit the crime then justice has truly been served and I hope he remains free. If he did, I hope the prosecutor takes him back to trial and he goes to prison.

    Re: Update: Dale Helmig's Conviction Overturned (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:30 PM EST
    Can you post a link to the 60 page Order, please? Or a case number or reference for PACER? Thanks.