Richmond, TX – On May 12, 2023, a jury convicted Donnie Helms of Sexual Assault before being sentenced to 29 years in prison in an agreement with prosecutors. The 56-year-old man was prosecuted for assaulting a woman in her home in 2020.
According to Assistant District Attorney Kaitlin Kaufmann, Helms was on parole for a 1992 Robbery charge and had been staying at a halfway house. The defendant knew the victim and asked if he could come live with her and her family. She agreed and the defendant moved in a month prior to the assault. On the night of the assault, the woman, her husband, and Helms had all been drinking and talking. As the conversation progressed, the woman became upset and went to bed. Her four children were all in their bedrooms, and the woman’s adult brother, who also lived with the family, was present in the home. The woman’s husband left the house to go run an errand, and while he was gone, Helms attacked her. The victim was awoken by painful digital penetration and began screaming when she saw it was the defendant. The victim’s brother ran into her bedroom to find Helms on the floor at the foot of the bed. The victim then attacked the defendant until he fled the house. She immediately called 911 and police located the defendant in a ditch outside a neighbor’s house.
“The victim in this case showed tremendous bravery to report and testify in this case,” said lead prosecutor Kaitlin Kaufmann. “We could not have secured a long prison sentence without her participation. Helms will likely die in prison and is no longer a threat to our community.”
“I want to thank the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Texas DPS Crime Lab, and the Memorial Hermann Forensic Nursing Services,” added District Attorney Brian Middleton. “Justice is a village concept: for the victims, their family, and our community. And when we work together to achieve that goal, all of us are safer.”
Helms was tried in the 240th District Court before Presiding Judge Surendran Pattel. Sexual Assault is a second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison. Because Helms has two prior felony convictions, under Texas’ 3-strikes law, his punishment range was enhanced to 25 – years, or life, in prison. Assistant District Attorneys Kaitlin Kaufmann and Ashley Harkness tried the case.