Helgevold pleads guilty to negligent homicide, DUI

Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clarence Helgevold Jr. pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide and driving under the influence during a Friday change of plea hearing in Kenai superior court.

Helgevold, 60, originally pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and DUI stemming from a January incident where he hit 47-year-old George Larion's snowmachine with his car. Larion was thrown from the snowmachine and died from his injuries on-scene, near the intersection of Brown's Lake Road and Seclusion Street off of Funny River Road.

The plea deal stipulates Helgevold serve four-and-a-half years of active jail for the reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide, and six months of active jail for the DUI misdemeanor, for a total of five years.

Helgevold also admitted to an aggravator, acknowledging his was among the most serious conduct outlined in the definition of criminally negligent homicide. Aggravators basically allow judges to impose harsher sentences than what the crime would normally carry.

"You should understand that when the court makes a finding of one of those aggravators," Judge Anna Moran told Helgevold, "should you have to come back in -- if you have a violation of your probation -- the court could use that in deciding the appropriate sentence."

The deal includes four years of suspended jail time, meaning that if Helgevold violates parole or probation once released, he could be compelled to serve that suspended time.

The aggravator does not change the underlying agreement, but could affect how much of the suspended sentence Helgevold would have to serve if he violated parole or probation.

Other conditions of the deal include a $5,000 fine with $1,000 suspended, and license revocation for three years and thirty days. Helgevold is not allowed to have direct or indirect contact with Larion's wife.

Helgevold must submit to alcohol screenings and engage in some sort of alcohol treatment program.

Defense attorney Eric Derleth mentioned during the hearing that Helgevold is looking into entering an in-patient treatment program in Anchorage.

Helgevold is currently out on bail on what amounts to house arrest; he cannot leave his home for anything other than approved appointments, such as court hearings. The court contracted with Alaska Pretrial Services in March as part of Helgevold's release on bail, and he is still wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet called House Arrest Solution. The bracelet, which is equipped with GPS technology, also monitors the presence of alcohol transdermally -- through the client's skin -- and immediately alerts the authorities of any misconduct.

"It's my understanding that he would end up being on this at least until sentencing," said Aaron Parker, director of APS.

Moran must finalize the plea deal during sentencing, and reserves the right to decide if the deal is too harsh or too lenient.

"The court is allowing it today," advised Moran, "but once we get all the information, the court can always say, 'Well no, this isn't appropriate.'"

Helgevold's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.

Karen Garcia can be reached at karen.garcia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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