Trooper Recants 1996 Testimony in Murder Case
Robert Westfall testified at a 1996 trial that Dale Helmig, under police interrogation, did not deny that he killed his mother, Norma Helmig.
Although Westfall's police report indicated otherwise, Helmig's defense lawyer at the time never sought to correct Westfall's testimony.
Helmig is serving a life sentence without parole.
During a hearing Wednesday on Helmig's motion for a new trial, Westfall admitted in a videotaped deposition that he testified inaccurately at the first trial.
Helmig's current lawyer asked Westfall in the deposition if Helmig ever denied killing his mother. Westfall replied, "Yes."
Helmig's defense attorney Sean O'Brien also questioned Westfall about Helmig's orignal defense attorney. There was speculation that the original defense attorney was under the influence of drugs during the trial. Westfall said he did not know for sure if the attorney was using drugs but said he appeared "glassy-eyed," and "fidgety," throughout the trial. He also said his behavior was "unpredictable."
The Helmig camp was also pleased when Osage County Chief Deputy Paul Backes replied "No," when asked if there were any eyewitnesses to the murder and if there was any physical evidence linking Helmig to his mother's murder.
"Today was excellent. I think we're on our way to a new trial," Helmig's childhood friend Debbie Rainsfoot said.
They also were happy that Helmig was allowed to wear street clothes in the courtroom. It was the first time that Helmig was allowed out of his prison uniform since his conviction.
Prosecutors said Helmig murdered his mother after a dispute about a $200 phone bill.
They denied comment for this story.