Socastee teen to be tried as an adult

Christian Helms, 15, leaves the courtroom in Conway after finding out he'll face the charges against him as an adult. / Whitney Gramling

A teenager accused of shooting at a school resource officer will be tried as an adult.

A family court judge ruled Friday that the charges against Christian Helms, 15, are so serious, they outweigh concerns about his age.

The hearing took three days, with 28 witnesses testifying and 22 exhibits offered into evidence. After all that, attorneys on both sides could agree on at least one thing.

Family Court Judge Georgia Anderson was faced with a very difficult decision.

In court, as she announced her decision, Judge Anderson said the U.S. Supreme Court gave judges 8 factors to consider when deciding whether to transfer a juvenile to adult court.

She then went down the list, offering opinions about whether Christian Helms case fit each factor.

It started with the seriousness of the crime, and the charges against Helms are serious.

"Both guns and pipe bombs are capable of causing great bodily injury and death, and numerous persons were in danger when these weapons were brought on school grounds," Judge Anderson said.

In nearly every instance, Judge Anderson decided, the evidence showed the violent nature of the crime outweighed other diminishing factors, like Helms' age and lack of criminal record. "All these support trying this juvenile as an adult."

Helms will now appear in general sessions court, charged with attempted murder, two counts of possession of an incendiary device and two counts of attempted detonation of those devices.

Helms is accused of firing a shot that narrowly missed Horry County Officer Erik Karney at Socastee High School last September and bringing pipe bombs to school that day in his book bag.

For the time being, Helms will continue getting treated for mental health issues. His attorney says, the kind of intense treatment Helms is getting now at the Department of Juvenile Justice, might have continued until he was 21, if he had remained classified as a juvenile.

"Now that he's being treated as an adult, against a sentence that lasts longer than his 17th birthday, he'll go straight from D.J.J. to the Department of Corrections and I'm almost certain that that kind of treatment's gonna stop," said defense attorney Russell Long.

But Assistant Solicitor Alicia Richardson argues that, as an adult, Helms could get probation and parole supervision after the age of 21, which he would not get if he remained a juvenile.

She says that means he'll have help staying on track, so he won't go back into society "cold turkey." "Probation and parole can assist with that, just to make sure that he's getting the help he needs when he gets back into society, and it's a smoother transition and safer for the public and also safer for him."

Defense attorney Long indicates Helms will probably plead guilty in adult court and work out a sentence with the solicitor's office.

Long says he will probably not ask that Helms be released on bond, right now. The solicitor says Helms could get up to 30 years in prison.

The next step for Helms will be a bond hearing, but no date has been set.

To see Judge Anderson's decision in it's entirety, click the media player above.

Read about day 1 testimony

Read about day 2 testimony

Read about day 3 testimony