Mo. Judge Rules Dale Helmig Innocent After 17 Years in Prison
A Missouri judge today found Dale Helmig innocent of killing his mother in 1993, a crime for which he has served 17 years in prison. The ruling follows a week-long hearing in July on whether Dale should receive a new trial.
DeKalb County Senior Judge Warren McElwain ruled that Helmig "established his innocence by clear and convincing evidence." He called Helmig, who was convicted in 1996 of killing his mother three years earlier in central Missouri's Osage County, a "victim of manifest injustice."
This one is personal for me, since I spent more than a week in Missouri interviewing Dale Helmig, his family, witnesses, the judge, prosecutors and Dale's trial and appellate defense counsel, for a 2000 TNT movie about his case, Was Justice Denied?. We also conducted our own investigation of the facts and reviewed all of the trial transcripts. I've continued to follow the case through its ups and downs here on TalkLeft. [More...]
The Illinois State University Innocence Project also re-investigated the case and made a movie about it. And students there found evidence that led to Dale's habeas petition being granted. (A ruling later reversed.)John Walsh, of America's Most Wanted, devoted an episode to Dale and his innocence. A factual overview is here.
Today's ruling also criticized the former lead prosecutor, Kenny Hulshof, who went on to serve six terms in Congress. The judge found he misrepresented evidence to the jury. And Dale's wasn't his only wrongful conviction )(details of the cases here:)
A 2008 investigation by AP found that prosecutorial errors by Hulshof led to four death sentence reversals, though those defendants were later convicted in subsequent trials.
Next up for Dale: A hearing on November 10th for bond pending a decision by the state whether to retry Dale.
Retry him? Enough, already. Let Dale go home.
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