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Archive for Saturday, March 3, 2001

Judge won’t release baby sitter

Prosecutors want kidnapping suspect tried as adul

March 3, 2001

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The 17-year-old baby sitter charged with kidnapping and endangering two Lawrence toddlers will continue to be held in custody, a judge ruled Friday.

Douglas County prosecutors also announced they want to try Natasha Helm as an adult.

During a brief hearing, Deputy Dist. Atty. Shelley Diehl asked Judge Jean Shepherd to keep Helm in custody, citing Helm's "history of violent behavior toward others" which includes battery and felony theft cases. She also had violated her conditions of release in the past, Diehl said.

"She's not likely to appear for future proceedings," she said. "She's a flight risk."

Helm's court-appointed attorney, Martin Miller, asked that Helm be placed under house arrest with her family. Several of her family members including her mother, sister and aunt were in the courtroom Friday. But Shepherd said Helm was "a danger to herself or others" and ordered her to remain in the Northeast Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center in North Lawrence, where she has been since Wednesday.

Diehl said her office would file paperwork to try Helm as an adult, but a judge will make the final decision whether she will be tried as a juvenile or adult.

Helm is charged with two felony counts of kidnapping and two misdemeanor counts of endangering a child for the alleged abduction of 2-year-old Chauncey Oatis and 4-month-old James Barbee from their home on Feb. 20.

Authorities found Helm and James in a van in Kansas City, Mo., late Feb. 22, and they found Chauncey at a Kansas City apartment five hours later.

Miller acknowledged the allegations "seem horrendous" on paper. But, he said, a different story may come out during later court proceedings.

"The real-life drama is a little less dramatic than it's been reported so far," he said.

"The realities of criminal cases are far different from what things first appear."

Helm appeared in street clothes and cried intermittently during the hearing. Her next court appearance will be at 1:30 p.m. March 19.

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