Defendant Enters Guilty Plea In Quadruple Murder Case

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A central Kentucky woman entered a
conditional guilty plea Monday to four counts of murder in a crash that killed three children and one adult who were riding in her van.
Melissa Helton, 42, of Nicholasville also pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment and driving under the influence in Jessamine Circuit Court on the day her trial was scheduled to begin.
Under terms of the plea agreement, she would receive 24 years in
prison on each of the murder counts, five years for first-degree wanton endangerment and 30 days for driving under the influence.
All the counts would be served concurrently.
Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Lockridge said Helton would be eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
Helton reserved the right to file an appeal on the claim that her blood was drawn without a search warrant, defense attorney Ed Dove told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The minivan in which Helton was driving the children home from a
swimming outing in August 2006 ran off a road, struck a tree and burst into flames.
The crash killed Helton's 12-year-old son Nicholas as well as 10-year-old Emily Ann Preston and 11-year-old Caleb Hilenbrandt.
Lori Latham, a friend of Helton's, died three months later from injuries suffered in the crash.
Helton and her daughter, Madison, survived the crash.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Agrandmother Location: kentucky on Jan 22, 2008 at 02:26 PM
    I could not say that she should be given more time, without saying that I believe the other adult passenger who died knew to well what she was doing in that van and was responsible for herself, she paid her own price with her own life. Now as for the children I think all the adults involved, including their own parents and grandparents play a part in this. It has been in the news that the driver was a full time babysitter and friend to the other parents, in this case you must do tell, how would they not know their children was in harms way when in the care of this persons? How are these people entitled to restitution? What gives them special privileges for their irresponsibility in all of this? Having all this said twenty years is nothing, but I am sure the driver and the rest of the parents are going to pay a high price in suffering for a much longer sentence. The parents of the children should be convicted for being an accessory to murder, because they knew the risk as much as the driver did. So be it, the driver should get more time in prison, the parents should not get cash rewards and we all should remember why this happen to three precious young souls. Each person should be responsible enough not to drink and drive, each parent and grandparent should be responsible enough to know who their children are with and where they are at all times. If your life is too busy for children, then don’t have them.
  • by Paul Location: Lex on Jan 17, 2008 at 09:34 AM
    As i read it she is sentenced to 24 years per count, plus 5 for wanton endangerment. She can't even apply for parole for 20 years.. so thats 20 years minimum.
  • by KYMOM Location: Wilmore on Jan 15, 2008 at 02:29 PM
    Well I think that she should have gotten more than what she got, I can't believe that the judge would even consider only 20 yrs. I would have gave her 20 years per each life she took, I know that I probably sounding pretty harsh about this but 3 children and an adult will never be seen again-except in Heaven-I have a child 8yrs old and I know better not to do something so stupid to harm him-myself-or others. The way I look at it she must have done this all the time and didnt care about the welfare of others just her drinking, the road that they were on is a very small and narrow road and she should have known not to be going 30 miles over the speed limit, anyone who has been on that road can see why the speed limit it 35 mph. I'm glad she will be able to think about what all has happened in her life she deserves more time. God bless the other families involved and pray for her daughter she is going to need all the prayers she can get.
  • by Wow Location: Richmond on Jan 15, 2008 at 11:08 AM
    (edited) Btw I dont drink and Ive been a 3yrold kid in a car with a drunk parent. Yes if you drive drunk and murder some one its the same as gettin high and playing with a gun. Because your stupid some one else dies well that means their family will never see them again. SO shouldnt justice be the same? Ever wonder why theres 3 DUI's before a felonys beeen comitted yet drive with 1 wrong pill and your a felon? Wake up and dont have a FEW beers when your goign to drive. After all IT IS ILLEGAL!
  • by lee Location: lexington on Jan 15, 2008 at 07:42 AM
    most people don't take into conciteration that they are guilty to , everytime you go out to eat and have a couple beers either by yourself, with your friend, or even with your family. it could be you looking at murder charges. then what should happin to you? death row, life in prison, 24 yrs, without parole for 20 years of your life. think about all the times you drove impaired in any form. may not have had people with you and think awh, im by myself im not hurting anyone. what about the other people on the road. sure you may think im better that; but actually you were just lucky, sometimes you dont harm anyone in your car its someone else that gets hurt. think about if you husband, wife,your child,anyone you love or care about did this. think you would want them serving this much time in prison. or maybe lots more time. also anyone who would leave there child with a person who they knew drank and was phycodic raise your hand. so why do you think this happined?who's equilly at fault?
  • by ima on Jan 14, 2008 at 04:13 PM
    i feel for all of the familys involved but i would bet this was not the first time that these kids were with the woman when she was drinking and i bet the kids were with her a lot but i recall reading somewhere that these kids were at this ladys home a lot i would bet that the parents of these kids new ms helton drank but she watched the kids a lot she made a terible misstake but i would say that this jail time is light with what she is dealing with herself
  • by Tyler Location: KY on Jan 14, 2008 at 02:20 PM
    It is ashame the people live with the outlook of an eye for an eye, that is until it comes home to them. The death sentence would not satisfy some of you. Most of you who point your fingers are quilty of driving drunk at one point. She did the right thing. She admitted quilt and took the plea bargin. 20 years is not a short time, in 20 years how old will her daughter her be that is still alive? how will she be? She has to live everyday now remembering what she done and thinking about what she is now missing out on. Could you stand to live 20 years away from your family. She made a horrible mistake, she did not plan to murder those children, but she did and she will now pay for it. Some people are so hungry to point our fingers and pass blame that they forget they too are human and could make a horrible mistake too.
  • by Tyler Location: KY on Jan 14, 2008 at 02:12 PM
    I am glad she pleaded quilty. She is showing a more responsible form of actions now. Good For Her, For Doing The Right Thing. Now we can all get on with what is left of our lives.
  • by Wow Location: Richmond on Jan 14, 2008 at 11:14 AM
    Boils down to 4 counts murder. She killed her own son and counting the woman 3 other mothers and duaghters children are now gone. The least she should get is life with out parole littlone death. Why is it if she had some illegal intoxication shed never see the light of day yet she is drunk and has a chance of being released relatively soon 1-20yrs?
  • by none ya business friend of family Location: richmond on Jan 14, 2008 at 11:13 AM
    people make mistakes, this woman is going to have to live with this for the rest of her life. I am sure she is remorseful after all her own childs life was taken, and now she is going to miss out on her daughters life as well. im not saying she doesnt deserve punishment because i do.I think not only the jail time she will be serving but her own personal punishment im sure she puts on herself everyday will haunt her for the rest of her life and it should. I pray for her and everyone involved in this sad situation.
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