Metro-East News

Scott airman’s trial set for Monday on desertion, sex charges

Tech Sgt. David Helm
Tech Sgt. David Helm

After briefly earning national notoriety as a fugitive from military justice more than two months ago, Tech Sgt. David Helm, 30, is scheduled to go on trial Monday morning on eight separate charges, including desertion, child sex abuse and indecent filmmaking and broadcasting.

The exact number of charges that Helm will face Monday morning before a military judge could change, depending on plea negotiations between Helm’s attorney and military prosecutors that could result in some charges being dropped and Helm pleading guilty to others, according to Jodi Ames, a spokeswoman for the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott.

Capt. Crystal Long, Helm’s attorney, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The Air Force charged Helm, 30, with desertion on June 18, or 10 days after police arrested him in Reno, Nevada.

He was arrested the same day he was set to face a court martial at Scott on charges he sexually abused two females, one of whom was younger than 16. Helm is also accused of videotaping “the private area” of one of the females.

Just before Helm, a member of the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, disappeared on May 5, he told friends he planned to ride his motorcycle from Scott to LaFollette, Tenn., where his parents live. Instead, Helm headed west to Nevada.

During a short stay in Las Vegas, Helm knocked two items off a personal “bucket list” — skydiving and driving a McLaren P1 race car around an oval track — according to the Nevada Highway Patrol officer who arrested Helm outside Reno after stopping the airman for a broken tail light.

Angeline Helm, Helm’s mother, said in a phone interview in June that her son was “a good boy” and that she had no clue as to what led to his legal problems.

Air Force prosecutions and convictions for the crime of desertion are rare. So far, through the calendar year 2015, the Air Force convicted five airman of desertion. The year before that, in 2014, there were four desertion convictions. In 2013 and 2012, there were eight and 10, respectively, according to Air Force data.

Desertion is one of the most serious charges that can be leveled against a member of the U.S. military. If the military member deserts during a time of war and to avoid hazardous or important duty, then he or she could in theory face the death penalty or life imprisonment.

However, since the Civil War, just one American service member has ever been executed for desertion — Private Eddie Slovik in 1945.

Read more here:

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at or 618-239-2533.