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Woman who admitted causing crash that killed four people sentenced again

By: Angela Beavin Email
By: Angela Beavin Email

Back in court to be sentenced again, a woman who admitted to driving drunk in a crash that killed four people, including children, apologized through her lawyer.

A Jessamine County judge re-sentenced Melissa Helton Thursday for the 2006 crash, because her first sentence was thrown out.

Helton received 24 years in prison, the same sentence she received the first time.

Before Thursday's sentencing, Helton's attorney read a letter her client wrote as an apology.

"It's good that she finally made a statement, you know," Lisa Stone, whose sister, Lori Latham died in the crash, said. "I know that the other families and kids needed to hear that from her."

Latham was the adult passenger with Helton the night of the 2006 crash in Jessamine County. Latham died several months later.

Also in the minivan that night were three children-- Helton's 12-year-old son, Nicholas, 10-year-old Emily Preston, and 11-year-old Caleb Hildenbrandt. The children were killed in the crash.

While many family members of those children say they would have liked a harsher sentence, Helton's husband, Gary, thinks otherwise.

"There should be a different sentence," Gary Helton said.

Helton pleaded guilty to charges related to the crash in 2008, but the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down her 24 year sentence last year.

The court wanted to hold another hearing to determine whether police had probable cause to think Helton was impaired before giving a blood test.

In March, a judge ruled officers did have reason to believe she was under the influence at the time of the crash.

Helton's husband says the sentence is difficult for everyone.

"I really hate that this all happened to all the families," Gary Helton said. "I wish I could change things and make it come back different. I want my son back too."

Melissa and Gary Helton also have a daughter, who is now 13 years old.

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