Duo who exposed child to meth lab chemicals sentenced
Herrin & Helton face 13 years imprisonment
by Heather Tomlinson Commonwealth Journal
Two people were sentenced last week for their part in exposing a young child to meth-making ingredients.
According to Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery, Brittany Helton, 24, and Brian Keith Herrin, 37, both of Burnside, appeared in Pulaski Circuit Court on Jan. 16 before Judge Jeffrey T. Burdette for charges related to an August 2013 incident during which a young child, Helton’s then-20-month-old son, tried to drink “Liquid Fire” drain cleaner while at Herrin’s residence.
Herrin, Helton, Krystal E. Hampton, 26, and the child’s father, Curtis W. Anderson, 23, were arrested in late August after police pieced the incident together and tracked the suspects down.
The investigation began after the young boy, who would be approximately 24 months old now, was treated at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital and later the University of Kentucky for burns to the mouth, face and chest.
Anderson took the young boy to the hospital after the incident occurred.
Initial fears were that the child had ingested the drain cleaner, potentially leading to death, according to investigators, but during treatment, doctors discovered that the acid had barely entered his mouth, burning the child’s lips. The liquid then spilled onto his chest and splashed onto his legs.
The child allegedly tried to drink the cleaner, thinking it was something else, while at Herrin’s residence on Aug. 20. Investigators stated that Helton took the child to Herrin’s residence.
All four people live on South U.S. 27, Loop 4, in Burnside.
Immediately following the incident, Herrin and Hampton allegedly fled the scene. A search warrant executed at Herrin’s residence turned up several items used to manufacture methamphetamine, including muriatic acid, batteries, tubing, salt, and acetone, according to investigators.
The four defendants’ cases had been progressing as part of the Rocket Docket program, during which defendants waive their rights to a grand jury hearing in order to reach a quick plea deal. But offers from Montgomery’s office were quickly withdrawn in September after Helton appeared to do an about-face during a hearing in front of Pulaski Circuit Judge Jeffrey T. Burdette.
Helton’s public defender, Andrea Simpson, had informed Burdette that her client wished to enter an Alford plea of guilty to one count of third-degree controlled substance endangerment to a child and one count of facilitation to manufacture methamphetamine.
An Alford plea is entered when a defendant maintains innocence but acknowledges enough evidence exists against them to bring about a conviction in court.
Burdette, however, declined to accept the Alford plea and asked that Helton enter either a guilty or not guilty plea. Helton then pleaded not guilty to her original charge of second-degree controlled substance endangerment to a child.
Helton, Hampton and Herrin were then indicted in October.
Anderson had already entered a guilty plea to one count of second-degree wanton endangerment, a misdemeanor, in August in connection with the incident.
Helton earlier this month pleaded guilty to third-degree child endangerment (controlled substances) and tampering with physical evidence.
Herrin in December pleaded guilty to one county of manufacturing methamphetamine.
Burdette sentenced Helton and Herrin to 13 years in prison.