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Missouri to appeal reversal of murder conviction

Missouri to appeal reversal of murder conviction

November 9th, 2010 by ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, Associated Press in News

The state of Missouri will appeal a county judge's decision overturning the 1996 murder conviction of a man accused of killing his mother, Attorney General Chris Koster announced Monday.

Dale Helmig is serving a life sentence for the 1993 death of Norma Helmig. Her body was found tied to a concrete block in a flood-swollen river in central Missouri's Osage County.

Koster released a statement Monday saying other state and federal courts have "reviewed and affirmed the underlying finding of guilt" in Helmig's case.

Last week, a judge in the northwest Missouri county where Helmig is imprisoned ruled that the 54-year-old former house painter "established his innocence by clear and convincing evidence" and was a "victim of manifest injustice."

Senior DeKalb County Judge Warren McElwain said prosecutors and law enforcement officers withheld evidence and presented false testimony at trial. The judge also said Helmig's attorney was likely under the influence of drugs in court.

Helmig's appeals lawyer plans to ask the judge to release his client on his own recognizance at a Wednesday afternoon bond hearing pending a ruling on the state's appeal.

Dale Helmig's brother said Monday that the state's decision to appeal is "no big deal."

"It's a bulletproof ruling," Rich Helmig said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It just means Dale is going to get out sooner."

If the state had chosen not to appeal, the Osage County prosecutor could still have revived the case by filing new murder charges within six months of the McElwain ruling. Now the family hopes that step won't be necessary should the judge's decision be upheld on appeal, Rich Helmig said.

Helmig won a new trial in a federal case alleging jury misconduct in 2005, but that decision was overturned on appeal.