DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A judge has ruled a 30-year-old Dayton woman not guilty by reason of insanity for killing her two children in 2017.
Claudena Helton told police she was saving her 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son from “evil in the world” and confessed to shooting and killing them back in May of 2017.
Police say she was naked and in a trance-like state when she was arrested.
She was originally facing the death penalty.
Friday, Helton withdrew her previous plea of “not guilty” and chose to proceed only on her plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity.”
She then waived her right to have a trial before a jury and agreed to a bench trial before Judge Dennis Langer.
Judge Langer made his decision after reviewing testimony, exhibits and stipulations, as well as the reports of three doctors on the issue of Helton’s mental status at the time of the murders.
Two out of three of those reports found that she was legally not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the acts.
Judge Langer sentenced Helton on Dr. Douglas Lehrer’s recommendation that the “least restrictive alternative” was for Helton to be committed at Summit Behavioral Healthcare in Cincinnati.
Helton’s lawyer tells 2 NEWS that the length of time she will remain committed depends entirely on what progress she makes with doctors there. If she undergoes treatment and doctors feel she is rehabilitated, she may eventually be released back into society.
A six month review has been scheduled for July 18, 2019 at 11:30 a.m.
“The violent events that occurred on May 18, 2017 tragically resulted in the shooting death of two innocent children by their own mother. The judge’s decision today ensures that the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court will have jurisdiction over this defendant for the maximum prison term that would have been available for the acts that occurred. Since the acts were two counts of Aggravated Murder which carry a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole, this defendant will be monitored by the Court for the rest of her life. The State will remain involved at all subsequent hearings to advocate that the defendant’s future mental health treatment will be conducted in the interest of public safety,” says Greg Flannagan with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.