Gary Helms Jr. and his family were spared further embarrassment and pain as he entered a guilty plea Wednesday morning on charges of incest.
Helms, 24, of Albertville was facing first-degree rape charges in a case dating back to 2006. At that time, Helms was accused of raping his mother as she allegedly lay drunk and passed out on the family's couch. The act was a way to get back at Helms' brother in an argument over a woman, according to police reports at that time.
From the beginning, Helms' mother, Vickie Helms, had argued the event was not rape and she never swore out a warrant against her son or pressed charges, said Gary Helms' attorney Mike Mastin.
"Gary Helms was charged initially with the rape of his mother. It has been our position from the beginning that it was consensual sex, as weird as it may sound," Mastin said.
On Wednesday, Helms agreed to a blind plea in front of Judge Tim Jolley and now faces sentencing on Nov. 7. A blind plea means court officials have not guaranteed any type of sentencing agreement at the time of the plea.
"Of course, at that time we are going to argue for the maximum sentencing to be imposed," said Marshall County Assistant District Attorney Chris Abel.
"I was surprised by the plea today."
Gary Helms was arrested in October 2006 after an argument between him and his brother over a female friend led to the rape of Helms' mother, Vickie Helms, as a form of retaliation against Gary's brother, according to Albertville detective Michael Rice.
In police reports from 2006, Rice said, "Helms has a history of reacting very angrily when things don't go his way. And in this case, it wouldn't have mattered who was nearby, he got mad and struck out at the nearest individual, who in this instance was his mother."
Rice characterized the incident as a "physical, power-assault, fueled by extreme anger."
Testimony began in the case Tuesday afternoon and Abel said Helms' mother was slated to give testimony Wednesday.
"This event happened in 2006 and Mr. Helms was indicted in 2007," said Jolley.
"Since that time, there has been considerable trouble getting his mother to court. At this time, we had to put her in jail to ensure she would be available to testify."
Mastin confirmed Vickie Helms had left Marshall County after the incident.
"Her intent was not to be found," Mastin said. "Her testimony would have been difficult for her to give and for the court to hear."
The case spawned talk across the nation and sparked emotional debates, making prosecution and investigation more difficult.
"It was probably not helpful in the beginning due to there being so much emotion involved," Mastin said. "Once the prosecution realized and was made aware there was no force involved, it made it an easy case to settle."
Mastin said witnesses testifying on Tuesday helped his client more than it helped the prosecutors.
"The witnesses the state put on (Tuesday) helped us and gave some background into the family and its relationships," Mastin said.
"We were prepared to put on additional testimony to show there was no force involved.
"I think the District Attorney's Office came to the same conclusion and dismissed the rape charge. We agreed all along that incest is what happened. If (Gary Nelms) would have been charged with that, we would have pleaded to that. Incest is sexual intercourse between the mother and son, and he never denied that."