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Driver In DUI Crash That Killed Four, Sentenced To 24 Years

A Jessamine County woman who killed four people in a DUI crash has learned how long she'll spend behind bars. Sentencing for Melissa Helton was held Friday morning in Nicholasville.

She pleaded gully in January to four counts of murder. Prosecutors say she was drunk at the time of the crash.

The emotions in the courtroom on Friday morning ranged from anger to sadness.

Rhonda Preston's 10-year-old daughter, Emily, was killed in the crash. Preston was there as Helton received her sentence of 24 years in prison, but it didn't bring her much peace.

"Life wouldn't have been enough for me. I think she should have to burn alive like them," Preston said.

Erica Key lost her little brother, Caleb Hildenbrandt, in the crash. She says the 24 year sentence wasn't harsh enough.

"I think she should have got 24 years for each child.," said Key. "I think the justice system failed us."

While some are trying to find forgiveness for Melissa Helton, others hope the community can learn something from the tragedy.

"I just hope people realize not to get behind the wheel after drinking," said Key.

While the court battle may be over, the personal battles these families deal with will never be over. But they are going on, even trying to forgive.

"I have to try to find forgiveness so I can go on," said Preston.

Helton's own son, Nicholas, also died in the crash along with an adult, Lori Latham.

Helton may also be required to help pay for funeral costs, but the details still need to be worked out in court.


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