Life means life.
Andrew Helderman, 28, was sentenced to life in prison May 31 after his second Manatee County trial for a 2014 stabbing in Holmes Beach.
The four-man, two-woman jury deliberated just under two hours and found Helderman guilty on one count of first-degree attempted murder with a weapon.
Two days of courtroom proceedings included testimony from the female victim, her doctor, two minors who lived nearby at the time, a Holmes Beach police investigator, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office crime technician and an EMT who treated the victim at the scene March 14, 2014, according to lead prosecutor Assistant State Attorney Dickey Hough.
Helderman’s case went to trial once before.
In December 2015, a judge declared a mistrial, finding him incompetent following a second day in court where he took on his own defense and questioned Holmes Beach officers who took the stand.
After the jury returned the May 31 verdict, 12th Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas meted out the sentence to Helderman based on the state’s reoffender law.
Helderman was previously convicted in 2008 in connection with a Glades County juvenile facility escape, including an aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was released from prison in November 2012, according to the Florida Department of Corrections website.
Helderman’s life sentence will not be impacted by gaintime for good behavior.
“Life means life,” Hough said in a June 1 email.
Nicholas was required to impose the life sentence, according to Hough, because the crime was committed within three years of Helderman’s release.
After the sentencing, the victim thanked friends on Facebook for their support and expressed relief, saying, “Finally, after four years, I can put this to rest.”
Leading up to the May trial, Helderman attempted to take on his own defense, become a co-counsel and disqualify the judge for bias. The judge denied Helderman’s motions.
Before the jury was sworn, prosecutors dropped an aggravated assault charge they had filed against Helderman for threatening a witness with a knife. Hough said the charge could not be proven because the witness was unavailable to testify.
Helderman’s court-appointed attorney, Charles Lykes Jr., presented a stand-your-ground defense, which the judge rejected based on evidence the stabbing was not an act of self-defense.
Helderman’s case began with his arrest after authorities were called to an apartment in the 300 block of Clark Drive and found Helderman straddling the victim in a bathtub. She was covered in blood with a knife protruding from her neck.
Three 12th Circuit felony cases against Helderman are pending and set for trial in July.
One case charges Helderman for illegally possessing weapons as a felon. The others stem from resisting an officer and possessing “shanks,” a homemade weapon, in the Manatee County jail.
Helderman has 30 days to appeal from the May 31 sentencing, according to Hough.
He was in Manatee County jail at press time.