Seated next to his attorney Thursday through a day of calm but damning testimony, James Helms showed no reaction.
Helms showed no reaction Friday when Brown County Court-at-Law Judge Sam Moss said Helms was guilty of of continuous sexual abuse of a child — a child who, Moss said, Helms had made into a sex slave for multiple years.
The 46-year-old Brownwood man still showed no reaction when Moss told Helms, “long sentences should be reserved for the very worst people who commit the worst crimes. And you fall into that category … I’m giving you a life sentence.”
As a deputy escorted Helms out of the courthouse a few minutes later and placed him into a patrol car, Helms kept his head lowered — his first outward reaction to any of the events over the past day and a half.
Under state law, there will be no parole for Helms.
Helms began sexually abusing the girl when she was a child, and continued the abuse through her mid-teen years, testimony showed. Helms was found out when the girl’s mother found a cell phone with video depicting Helms sexually abusing the girl.
Helms fled to Maine, where investigators tracked him through the electronic footprints of his media devices, according to testimony. Helms was arrested in Maine on Texas warrants, and Maine forensics investigators recovered multiple images and videos of Helms and the victim, who is now in her late teens and has moved away from Brownwood.
Helms had kept the girl from telling anyone by manipulating her and convincing her something bad would happen to her and her family if she told, according to testimony.
“We are asking for a life sentence,” First Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird told Moss. “He has altered her for life … he deserves to hear ‘you are a monster and you are a pervert.’”
Defense attorney Kirk Fulk of Goldthwaite did not put on any evidence but said in his closing argument the case should be aggravated sexual assault, which would mean Helms would be eligible for parole. Fulk argued there was no evidence to support the more serious charge of continuous sexual assault of a child and asked for a deferred adjudication sentence.
As Moss prepared to announce Helms’ sentence, he said the victim and her testimony had been credible and was corroborated by other evidence. “It is clear that Mr. Helms had been having sex with this child for a long period of time,” Moss said.
Turning the girl into Helms’ sex slave “is disturbing,” Moss said. “It is sick. In my opinion you represent the worst and most evil type of person that exists.”
Moss was far from finished.
Moss told Helms he didn’t think Helms would get any message from the sentence because “that will require you to have a soul and you don’t have one. … I agree with the state that you gave (the victim) a life sentence. I’m going to give you one.
“ … There is really a special place in hell for people like you, and you’re going to get to experience that, but only after you serve the rest of your life in prison here on earth. So that is the way it’s going to be. There is nothing else I have left to say, other than, is there any legal reason why I shouldn’t sentence your client, Mr. Fulk?”
“There is no legal reason,” Fulk replied.
“Then that is the sentence of this court,” Moss said. “There will be no parole. So you will spend the rest of your natural life in the penitentiary.”