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Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Helm sentenced, sort of

June 20, 2001

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Will Natasha Helm, 17, serve a standard 24-month probation through Douglas County Court Services? Or will she be assigned to Douglas County Community Corrections and spend the first six months in a boot camp for offenders?

Judge Robert Fairchild will decide Aug. 14. During a hearing Tuesday, the judge handed Helm sentences involving state prison and county jail time and then suspended those sentences and placed her on probation.

The sentence called for Helm to serve 16 months for the first count of aggravated interference with parental custody and 12 months on the second count. Those sentences were to run consecutively.

A third count of endangering a child, a misdemeanor, drew a one-year sentence to jail but would be counted concurrently, as she served the prison sentence.

Under Fairchild's ruling, however, Helm would serve 24 months probation instead of the prison time.

Helm pleaded no contest last month to the reduced charges. She was arrested in February for taking two boys, ages 2 and 4, from their home. She was found after a police search on the east side of Kansas City, Mo. She had been baby-sitting at the time for the children's mother.

Douglas County Chief Asst. Dist. Atty. Shelley Diehl asked that Helm be assigned to Community Corrections and ordered to serve six months in the Labette County Conservation Camp, which is a boot camp for offenders.

Paperwork concerning Helm's case still must be completed by Community Corrections officials, and it was not known whether the camp would accept her.

Helm's attorney, Martin Miller, said his client doesn't want to go to the boot camp and would prefer standard Court Services probation.

"I think she recognizes that she needs to be more responsible," Miller said. "I think she's making an effort to clean up her act."

Miller said Helm came from a troubled home and needed rehabilitative help, not more punishment.

Diehl, however, argued that Helm had been in and out of the court system as a juvenile and had not taken advantage of rehabilitative opportunities in the past.

"When she's out and doesn't have anyone watching her, she becomes involved in the court system again," Diehl said.

Diehl also said Helm had not shown remorse for her crimes.

Fairchild will decide the probation issue after all court paperwork is completed and it is known whether Helm will be accepted in the boot camp.

Meanwhile, Helm is free on a $10,000 own-recognizance bond, Douglas County Jail officials said.

-- Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.

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