15 year old enters plea in school shooting
Mon, 08 Aug 2011 21:32:58 GMT —
A trial that was set to begin Monday for a teenager who shot at a school resource officer last year came to an abrupt conclusion.
Christian Helms , 15, entered an Alford plea, which means he acknowledges the state has enough evidence to find him guilty.
Last September, Helms fired a shot that narrowly missed Socastee High School resource officer Erik Karney , and he brought three homemade pipe bombs to school.
Last March, a family court judge ruled that Helms's case should be moved to adult court.
A jury had been selected in the case Monday , and it was set to go to trial, when Helms submitted the Alford plea on the attempted murder charge.
The last-minute plea took Assistant 15th Circuit Solicitor Alicia Richardson by surprise.
"We were fully prepared to go to trial, had our witnesses all lined up , so I was surprised, but it's always the defendant's prerogative if he decides to enter a plea of guilty," Richardson said.
Richardson said the Alford plea will not impact Helms' sentencing, which will be the same as if he had pleaded guilty.
Helms also pleaded guilty on two bomb charges. The state dropped the third bomb charge.
Defense attorney Russell Long said the Alford plea was in Helms' best interest. Long said Helms has never admitted to trying to murder anyone.
Richardson said she's glad Helms accepted responsibility for his actions and a trial can be avoided.
"It does save time. We had witnesses who were coming from Columbia and other parts of the state , and this does prevent them from having to travel."
Helms could get up to 30 years in prison on the attempted murder charge and 15 years each on the bomb charges.
Sentencing will be Wednesday.