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Posted: Monday, December 16th 2013 at 11:01am

Cornelia man pleads guilty in death of girlfriend

By Rob Moore Editor
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Jeremy Shane Helton
CLARKESVILLE - A Cornelia man will serve up to 20 years for the shooting death of his girlfriend in 2012.

Monday morning, Jeremy Shane Helton, 30, pleaded guilty in Habersham County Superior Court to aggravated assault under the Family Violence Act, possession of methamphetamine, and theft by receiving stolen property.

The state charged that on May 25, 2012, Helton knowingly made an assault on Helen Louise Ash by shooting her in the head with a 9-mm pistol.

Additionally, Helton was charged with the drug possession and the possession of a gun that had been stolen from Kimberly R. Holbrooks, with no intent of returning it to its owner, court documents show.

Helton was sentenced to 20 years to serve on the aggravated assault FVA charge, which included the stipulation of banishment from the Mountain Judicial Circuit (Habersham, Rabun, Stephens counties) if on parole.

Additionally, he was sentenced to serve 15 years for drug possession, to be served concurrently with the 20-year sentence.

For the theft by receiving charge, he was sentenced to serve 10 years concurrently with the other sentences.

Helton, who was represented by Public Defender Drew Powell, will receive credit for time served since May 26, 2012.

Following acceptance of the plea agreement by Mountain Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Chan Caudell, District Attorney Brian Rickman commented on the case.

"We've been working very hard on the case," Rickman said. "Given the evidence that was there and some of the evidence that his attorneys made us aware of, I'm ok with the outcome."

Rickman said the initial murder charge was downgraded to aggravated assault under the Family Violence Act as part of the negotiated plea.

"We had some good circumstantial evidence to rebut his claim that it was an accident," Rickman said. "Our case was built around a lot of history of prior violence."

Rickman said the family also was ok with the outcome of the case.

"We met with them extensively Friday night and then we met with them again last night," Rickman said. "They're pretty similar to us. They would love to have a guarantee of a life sentence that he would never get out, but they understand the realities of the good stuff that we had and also some of the difficulties that we were going to have. Most of all, I think they are glad to have closure."

Rickman said both his office and defense attorneys worked all weekend for trial. It wasn't until Sunday night that an agreement was reached.

"It's not a case that we were just going to sell down the river for nothing, but we felt if we could get in the range of multiple decades in prison, then we felt it was worth it."

Asked how much of the 20-year sentence Helton is likely to serve, Rickman said, "It'll be up to the parole board. The parole board could require him to serve the entire sentence. I think it's realistic to expect somewhere between 15 and 20 years."
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