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 promoted Helton to 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’s decision to pull her guilty plea had immediate consequences for her co-defendants — Anderson, Herrin, and Hampton.
Anderson had already entered a guilty plea to one count of second-degree wanton endangerment, a misdemeanor, in August in connection with the incident. Herrin and Hampton’s cases had been up for review alongside Helton’s case.
Anderson was not included in the grand jury’s charges.
Helton and Herrin are being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center on $50,000 bonds. Hampton was lodged on a $5,000 bond.
An indictment is an accusation only, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.