Jury finds Grass Valley attempted robbery suspect not guilty
In the first criminal trial in Nevada County Superior Court since the initial COVID-19 shutdown, a jury found a man charged with attempted second-degree robbery not guilty.
Jerry Dean Helton, 30, had been arrested by Grass Valley police officers after a November 2019 incident in which he was alleged to have tried to steal from B&C Hardware in the 2000 block of Nevada City Highway.
Prosecutors said Helton tried to leave the store with a cart full of merchandise, then struggled with employees and made threats. A report was taken after Helton left without the items.
The trial, which began last Tuesday, ended Thursday after jurors deliberated for about two hours.
“Mr. Helton spent over six months in custody waiting for his day in court and has always maintained his innocence,” said Deputy Public Defender Tamara Zuromskis. “The evidence against him was exceedingly weak and the case should never have been filed or brought to trial. Mr. Helton and I thank the jury for their service and invite any juror who has comments to contact myself, the district attorney, and The Union.”
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Deputy District Attorney Patrick Beauchamp said his office prosecuted Helton because “We believed we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of the crime alleged.”
“We disagree with the verdict, but we respect the jury’s decision,” Beauchamp added.
Helton was not released from custody after the verdict, as he has an out-of-county warrant hold, said Nevada County Sheriff’s Lt. Sean Scales.
The hold was issued Thursday and the issuing county has until Tuesday, June 30, to pick Helton up and arrange transport, Scales said. It was not clear what jurisdiction issued the warrant, but court records show three probation cases from El Dorado County, including a 2015 assault.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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