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Beverly Eaves Perdue

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Alvin W. Keller Jr.

North Carolina Department of Correction

For Release: Contact: Keith Acree
Date: April 30, 2009 Phone: 919 -716-3700


SBI completes investigation regarding injuries to inmate Timothy Helms
District attorney finds no basis for charges against prison staff

 TAYLORSVILLE – The State Bureau of Investigation has completed its investigation into the injuries sustained by inmate Timothy Helms at Alexander Correctional Center.  District Attorney Sarah Kirkman has reviewed the findings and evidence and determined that no charges will be filed against any prison staff members.

 In a letter to the SBI, District Attorney Sarah Kirkman wrote “I have thoroughly reviewed the investigation.   After discussing the case with [the SBI] agents and reviewing the report, including medical records, witness statements and the video footage, I recommend that no criminal charges be filed.”

 Helms became injured in the events following a fire that he set in his cell on August 3rd at approximately 10 p.m.  Video of the incident shows that Helms was found unresponsive on the cement floor at his cell door when officers opened that door.  One officer grabbed Helms by the arms and pulled him from the cell while others moved in to extinguish the fire.  Helms was handcuffed and then confined in a nearby shower while officers extinguished the fire and evacuated 15 intensive control inmates from the smoke filled cell block.  He has since been indicted by a grand jury on charges related to setting the fire.

 The SBI investigation was unable to conclusively determine the cause of Helms’ injuries, but it did determine these facts:

  • Emergency room physician Dr. Jon Giometti told the interviewing SBI agent that his notations in the medical record indicating that Helms has been beaten with a “billy stick” were a recount of the story Helms told him
  • Dr. Giometti said he did not believe Helms had been abused.  If he had suspected abuse, Giometti said he would have taken photos, measurements and made sketches of Helms injuries.  Giometti said he did none of those things, since he did not suspect abuse
  • There was no evidence that Helms had broken ribs.
  • Helms fractured nose was a pre-existing injury and not related to the fire.
  • The story that Helms has consistently told – that he was beaten by several officers during a struggle in the cell block where the fire happened – is not supported by video evidence.
  • The officers assigned to H-block, where Helms was housed, did not carry batons and in fact were not issued them until a month after the incident, when they received training on the batons.

Other inmates who were housed in cells on either side of Helms during the night after the fire reported that they could hear him moving about in the cell, since his hand and leg restraints made

  • a lot of noise.  Those inmates report no unusual noises or events through the night and they reported that Helms made no statements about assault.
  • Helms met with a deputy from the Alexander County sheriff’s office who came to take a report shortly after the fire.  Helms invoked his right to an attorney and refused to tell the deputy what had happened.   He did not make any complaints that he had been beaten.
  • Helms made no complaints about being beaten to any prison nursing staff who treated him after the fire.

 Today, inmate Timothy Helms remains in the hospital at Central Prison where is receiving physical therapy and has some ability to move his arms and legs.


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Public Information Office     4202 Mail Service Center     Raleigh NC 27699-4202
Phone (919) 716-3700      Fax: (919) 716-3795

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