Helm Case In Jury’s Hands

SPOKANE — Closing statements have wrapped up in the Clifford Helm vehicular homicide trial and now a jury is deciding his guilt or innocence.

In closing arguments prosecutors admitted their long running theory helm was distracted by a cell phone at the time of the crash was a red herring, that it was also possible he fell asleep, was suicidal or maybe putting in a CD but prosecutors told the jury it didn’t matter.

“We’re not here to prove causation but he left the road with a disregard for the safety of others,” Prosecuting attorney Clint Francis said.

Prosecutors argued tire tracks from Helm’s truck show he was in control of his truck because the tracks turn to avoid a mud puddle in the median. The decision put Helm’s truck back into oncoming traffic where he slammed into Jeff Schrock’s truck head on, killing five of his children.

They also say there is no proof of Helm’s claim he fainted while he was driving from a coughing fit.

“What evidence do we have he was coughing as he drove off the road?  Zero. Even the defendant didn’t say he was coughing. Best he could say was might have been,” Francis said.

In his closing arguments Helm’s attorney Carl Oreskovich argued the prosecutors had not proven it’s case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Isn’t there reason after reason after reason to doubt Mr. Helm was driving with a disregard for the safety of others and the safety of others,” Oreskovich said.

Oreskovich argued Helm fainted and wasn’t in control of his truck and the vehicle’s cruise control powered the truck in and out of the median on a collision course with Jeff Schrock’s truck. Oreskovich called the death of five children in the collision a tragic accident and not an intentional act.

“Let’s not have a second tragedy. They didn’t prove [their] case. Clifford Helm is an innocent man. Clifford Helm didn’t do this crime,” Oreskovich said.

The jury resumes deliberations Friday morning.