Just as his trial was set to begin, the Socastee student accused of shooting at the school’s resource officer pleaded guilty.
Accused Socastee High School gunman Christian Helms entered the plea Monday afternoon. Helms, 15, has been in custody at the Juvenile Justice Center in Columbia since last September after being accused of firing a gun at school resource officer Erik Karney and carrying pipe bombs onto school property September 21. In March, a judge ruled Helms would be tried as an adult. Helms was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.
Helms entered an “Alford” plea in the attempted murder charge against him. The Alford plea means Helms does not admit to the attempted murder, but he realizes there is enough evidence to convict him of the charge. Helms’ defense attorney Russell Long said Helms has always claimed he did not plan to shoot or kill Karney.
Judge Thomas W. Cooper scheduled Helms’ sentencing for Wednesday. The attempted murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, with no minimum sentence. Each bomb-related charge carries a possible sentence of 2 to 15 years.