Two sentences, two apologies

Justice visited the metro-east this past week in contrasting forms that provided an interesting study in remorse.

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. David Helm, 35, was court martialed and sentenced to 25 years for raping a teen, desertion and for taking nude pictures of a woman and posting them online. His defense attorney painted him as remorseful and said his guilty plea was intended to spare his 15-year-old victim from testifying.

His actions speak loudest, and they show a pervert trying to save himself from a lifetime in prison. His plea deal got him 25 years.

As prosecutors pointed out, this is a guy who responded to charges of violating a woman and a teen by getting $12,000 in cash so he could flee to Nevada and check off some bucket list items, including riding a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, driving a race car and skydiving.

The teen girl he raped tried to kill herself. He went on vacation.

His plea for redemption was self-centered and he wrapped himself in victimhood. “The demons I have fought against are not anything I would wish up my worst enemy,” Helm said.

Poor him.

Then there was the case of Justin D. Vaughn, 25, of Cottage Hills. He was celebrating his birthday with a dice game at his home. He argued with Demetrius C. Lucas, shot and killed Lucas.

Vaugh told Lucas’ mom that he just wanted her son to leave his house and didn’t mean to kill him. “I pray for your forgiveness.”

He got 57 years because of prior felony convictions.

Argument settled with a gun, 57 years. Repeated acts of sexual violation leading to a teen’s suicide attempt, 25 years.

Which version of “I’m sorry” should be believed and accepted? How much penance earns redemption?