Jessamine County

Melissa Helton pleads guilty again in crash that killed four passengers

NICHOLASVILLE — For the second time, a Jessamine County woman pleaded guilty Friday to charges related to a 2006 crash that killed three children and led to the death of an adult passenger.

Melissa Helton pleaded guilty to four counts of wanton murder, one count of wanton endangerment and driving under the influence. On Aug. 22, 2006, Helton was driving a minivan that crashed and killed her 12-year-old son, Nicholas, and two other children, Emily Ann Preston, 10, and Caleb Hildenbrandt, 11. Lori Latham, 40, a passenger in the van, died in November 2006 of injuries from the crash.

Helton pleaded guilty to the same charges in 2008, but the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down her 24-year sentence in 2009, saying a new suppression hearing should be held to determine whether police had probable cause before a blood test was done to think Helton was impaired.

Jessamine Circuit Judge Hunter Daugherty ruled in March that deputy sheriffs had reason to believe Helton was driving under the influence even before a blood test was taken.

Daugherty scheduled sentencing for Sept. 23.

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