Monday, November 17, 2003

And you think you have it bad...

This is the summary of the background facts in a new opinion from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. v. Helton:

In 1999, from June 2 to June 3, Helton and three others (Harold Dean McCarty (“McCarty”), Mildred Stanley Slusher (“Stanley”) and Molly Minix Shepherd (“Minix”)) used cocaine at Helton’s residence while Helton and McCarty prepared half-gram packages of cocaine for sale. Realizing that they needed to restock their supply of cocaine (in view of the amount they had consumed), Helton and McCarty decided to exchange Helton’s television for a half-gram of cocaine and $400. Stanley drove McCarty to a prospective seller. On the way, Stanley watched McCarty hide nineteen cocaine packages behind a traffic sign.

After agreeing to terms with the cocaine seller and after returning to Helton’s residence to load the television onto his truck, McCarty left to make the exchange. While he was gone, Stanley retrieved five or six of the recently-hidden packages for Helton, Minix and herself—all of whom were suffering from cocaine withdrawal—to consume. When McCarty learned that no cocaine remained at the hiding place, he accused Stanley of stealing the packages. She denied any knowledge of their whereabouts, but McCarty did not believe her and proceeded to shoot her. The bullet passed through Stanley’s shoulder and exited out her lower back, but did not kill her.

At this point, Helton and McCarty drove Stanley to the hiding place behind the traffic sign where McCarty threatened her with the gun, again demanding that she tell them where the cocaine was. She again disclaimed any knowledge about the location of the cocaine, and McCarty fired at her head, missing her.

Helton and McCarty then drove Stanley to a strip mine where they tied cement blocks to her body and threw her into a nearby pond. In a fortuitous application of Murphy’s Law, the pond turned out to be waist deep. Stanley did not drown.

In one last effort to “put her under,” Helton took aim at Stanley three times and tried to shoot her three times. Each time, he missed the cement-laden Stanley. Apparently stymied, Helton and McCarty dragged Stanley from the pond and moved her to a nearby woods. In a conversation that history regrettably does not fully record, Helton and McCarty discussed what to do with Stanley next.

Happily for Stanley, they did not have a chance to follow through on their next plan. Helton left the scene and sleep overcame McCarty, allowing Stanley to escape to a nearby residence where she was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center. There, she underwent surgery and eventually recovered.

 8:32 AM

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