In 180 days, Dale Helmig could finally be exonerated in the killing of his mother in 1993 and dumping her body in the Osage River with a cinder block tied around her waste. Or, he could find himself preparing to stand trial for the crime again. It's all up to Osage County prosecutors.
Helmig was convicted in 1996 of Norma Helmig's murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The case was a strange one. Dale Helmig, who lived with his mother, called police to report her missing after finding their home torn apart. Police soon centered their investigation on Helmig, who has always denied he killed his mother.
At trial, prosecutors portrayed Helmig as angry with his mother over
money, specifically a $200 phone bill and charge to tow his car. His
defense attorney told him not to testify and didn't call witnesses that
would support Helmig's claim that he and his mom were close. It probably
didn't help that Norma's sister told the court that Norma was scared of
Last year, a DeKalb County judge overturned the conviction, calling
circumstantial evidence used to convict Helmig "thin" and saying he was
the victim of a "fundamental miscarriage of justice." Attorney General
Chris Koster appealed that decision, saying, "Because our system of law is
one of checks and balances, it is
appropriate that the judge's decision be reviewed by the Missouri
appellate courts before it is rendered final."
The checks and balances system has run its course, and the appeals
court this week upheld the previous ruling to throw out the murder conviction.
Helmig has been out on bond since December while the state appeal was
pending. The clock is now running on the 180 days that Osage Beach prosecutors have to
retry him. If they don't, his murder conviction will be vacated.