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UPDATE: Man pleads not guilty to murder for fatal Johnson Co. crash

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email
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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 1/3/14:

A Magoffin County man accused of murder in a Johnson County crash pleaded not guilty Friday.

Officials say Gene Helton was driving a coal truck while under the influence when he crashed into a pickup truck killing 36-year-old Miranda Martin last May.

Helton pleaded not guilty to murder, DUI and assault.

He was released from jail Friday on a $25,000 cash bond under the condition he surrender his license.

He is scheduled to be back in court February 7.

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UPDATE 12/26/13:

A Magoffin County man is facing murder charges for a crash in Johnson County that happened nearly seven months ago.

The accident happened May 29 of this year just north of Paintsville in Johnson County.

"Mr. Helton was operating a commercial vehicle on southbound U.S. 23 when Mr. Helton struck another vehicle which caused the fatal collision. The circumstances around the collision led to all the charges being filed at this time," said Officer James Fields with Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

Officers say Gene Helton was driving a coal truck while impaired and slammed into the back of another vehicle killing a woman.

Officials say they believe that woman, 36-year-old Miranda Martin, was riding in the bed of a pickup truck which pulled out from Route 201 onto U.S. 23 and collided with the coal truck.

They say Martin was thrown from the bed of the coal truck and died on scene.

Nearly seven months later police say they had the evidence they needed to indict Helton for Martin's murder.

"With the findings and the results of the investigation it led Officer Thomas Gearheart, with the help of the Johnson County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, to seek the indictment of murder against Gene Helton," said Fields.

A grand jury also indicted him for DUI and assault.

Police are still searching for Helton who is from Magoffin County.

They are asking anyone who might know where he is to contact them.

Another man was also thrown from the pickup truck in the accident.

He was treated for serious injuries.

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ORIGINAL STORY 5/29/13:

A crash in Johnson County leaves one woman dead and four others injured.

The accident happened just after 1:00 Wednesday afternoon shutting down two lanes of U.S. 23 for several hours.

"We have a pickup pulling a trailer that was loaded down with wood and he was hit by a tractor trailer, a coal truck," said Lt. Jamie Collins with Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

Officials believe the blue Chevy pickup had just turned of KY 201 onto U.S. 23 southbound in Johnson County when a coal truck came up behind it hitting the trailer carrying the wood.

"There was a fatality. That's why I was called to be on scene. Investigation is still going on," said Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby.

Officials say it appears a man and a woman were riding in the bed of the pickup truck.

They say both of them were thrown from the truck when the accident happened killing the woman, 36-year-old Miranda Martin, and seriously injuring the man.

He was flown from the scene to Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Police say a total of five people were in the pickup.

The three people in the cab of the truck were also injured and transported by ambulance.

Officials say the driver of the coal truck was not injured.


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