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Day 3: Myrtle Beach area teen's mom testifying about bullying, school shooting

Live updates from the courtroom during the third day of a waiver hearing in which Family Court Judge Georgia Anderson is expected to decide whether Christian Helms should be tried as an adult or juvenile in a 2010 school shooting case.

The 15-year-old is charged with taking a loaded gun and pipe bombs to Socastee High School on Sept. 21 and shooting at Erik Karney, the school's resource officer.

9 a.m. - Nancy Granchelli, an intake manager for the state Department of Juvenile Justice is the first witness to be called by prosecutors today. She said Helms has been in trouble while being housed at the juvenile facility in Columbia for using profanity, disrupting class, gang activity and assaulting another juvenile.

Staff members also confiscated news clippings of the incident because Helms was showing them to other juveniles and staff members, Granchelli said. Helms also asked to view online comments at news sites about the case, but staffers declined to allow him to see them.

Granchelli also said Helms has befriended another Horry County teen, Zireek Brooks, who is going to be tried as an adult on charges he shot a Conway woman in the head on June 12.

9:40 a.m. - In a journal Helms has kept while being held at DJJ, he had written two letters to The Sun News that included an apology for what he did at the school and an apology to Karney.

"I just want you all to forgive me and not remember me for the bad things I've done," Helms wrote in the letters read by Granchelli. "I used to think hurting people would make them leave me alone."

10 a.m. - Michael John Prodan, a behavioral science expert with the State Law Enforcement Division, has been called to provide his opinion about Helms and the case.

10:20 a.m. - Prodan said Helms' journal entries show he "was thinking about this event a lot." Helms also compared himself to the Columbine (Colo.) High School massacre shooters and identifies warning signs that he is a school shooter.

"He claims I have three or four of those signs," Prodan said. He also said Helms had drawings in the journal that showed places to shoot someone to torture them and not kill them right away.

Helms also took nicknames used by the Columbine shooters to refer to the incident and "made comments to out do his idols," Prodan said.

10:35 a.m. - In his journal, Helms wanted to be remembered and be significant. He had planned a larger shooting at the school to be carried out his senior year of school because he couldn't get the weapons he wanted until he was 18.

"He described gun laws as a hindrance to what he wanted to do," said Alicia Richardson, senior solicitor for juvenile prosecution in Horry County."Yes," Prodan said.

11 a.m. - Prodan read a letter Helms wrote to Karney asking for his forgiveness."I'm so sorry for the pain I caused you. That shot was not meant to go off," Prodan said reading the letter.But Prodan said the letter is self-serving because Helms wanted to be "that important guy."

11:10 a.m. - Prosecutors have concluded presenting witness testimony and evidence in their case during the waiver hearing. Helms' attorney, Russell Long, is expected to begin presentation of his witnesses and evidence.

11:30 a.m. - Julian Sharman, a clinical psychologist at DJJ, has been meeting with Helms regularly since his arrest. When Helms was first brought to DJJ, Sharman said Helms "seemed a bit relieved" to be at the facility.

"I assumed he felt relief that it was over," Sharman said.

11:50 a.m. - Under cross examination by prosecutors, Sharman said Helms was concerned about how he looked and what has been written about the incident in media coverage. He also said Helms asked to see online comments posted on media sites.

"He was interested in everything that was written or shown about the incident," Sharman said.

"He seemed to enjoy the attention?" Richardson said.

"I thought so," Sharman said.

12:15 p.m. - A 14-year-old boy said he and Helms are best friends. They share interests of skateboarding, dancing. The boy said he has seen remnants of Helms' test bombs and heard Helms talk about guns and Columbine. The teen said he never saw Helms be physically bullied, but he heard other kids call Helms names.

12:20 p.m. - Lunch break until 2 p.m.

2:05 p.m. - Helms' mother, Traci Helms, is testifying about her son.She is describing him as a quick learner, but that he "never felt like what he did was good enough."

2:20 p.m. - Traci Helms said her son fought with a boy in sixth grade because the boy picked on him. She said her son told her the boy pushed his head into lockers, pushed him in the hallways and tried to trip him as well as called Christian Helms names. She said her son reported the incidents.

2:30 p.m. - Traci Helms said her son was bullied by four or five boys in seventh grade. She said the boys would put gum in his hair, throw things at him and call him names. She said school officials told her that because there was not altercations there was nothing they could do.

When he went to eighth grade, Traci Helms said he changed because the boys were gone from the middle school. "In eighth grade I saw such a wonderful change in Christian, I didn't know it had to do with these bullies," she said.

2:40 p.m. - Traci Helms said she did not know about his journal, but she was not surprised that he kept one. She said she did not know he built explosives other than once at July 4 celebration when he took apart a firework and set the powder on fire inside a cardboard tube. She said the family had two shotguns and the revolver in their home. Christian Helms' father worked nights and she worked days so they had the shotguns in the home for protection. His father kept the revolver, which belonged to his grandfather, in his truck.

3 p.m. Traci Helms said the incident with Christian Helms' dad, Jamie, involved newly laid tile and Christian Helms walking on it right after it was put down. "Jamie was very angry and he was cussing at Christian and saying why would he be so stupid as to walk on the tile. I took the phone and told Jamie 'you can be mad at him, but don't cuss at him."She said she gave the phone back to Christian Helms and heard Jamie Helms said he would spank the teen if the tile was messed up.

3:05 p.m. – Traci Helms said the day of the incident she didn’t think Christian Helms would be involved in any shooting incident until her husband called to say his gun was missing from his truck. “At that point I was worried he had killed himself. I felt like if he had taken the gun that would’ve been the only thing he would have done.”

Traci Helms said she appreciates what Karney did on the day of the incident. “I am forever grateful for what he did that day.”

3:10 p.m. - Traci Helms turned to Family Court Judge Georgia Anderson and made a plea for her son."Please give him a chance at life. Please give him a chance to get the help he needs, to help him through all these issues and to help him become a productive member of society," Traci Helms said with tears streaming down her face and her voice shaky and emotional.

Prosecutors are getting ready to question Traci Helms, but Anderson is giving her a five minute break.

3:20 p.m. - "Christian needs help. I have never denied that. I have never denied what he did was very wrong," Traci Helms said.

3:30 p.m. - Donna Schwartz-Watts, a forensic psychiatrist, said children who are sentenced as adults go to a youthful offender campus upon turning 17 and often the facilities do not have mental health centers. She has worked with DJJ and the state's Department of Corrections in treating prisoners.Services offered by DJJ for mental health counseling "exceeds that that is in the community," Schwartz-Watts said.

3:40 p.m. – Schwartz-Watts said Christian Helms suffers from major depression that he had before the incident. She said the teen is taking three medicines to treat depression and had not been taking them before the incident.“He was suffering from depression and one of the symptoms is you can become obsessed with things,” Schwartz-Watts said. “It’s like a broken record your brain plays the same thought over and over again.”But she believes Christian Helms can be rehabilitated because eight out of 10 people with major depression get better when treated. She said Christian Helms has made amends with his father, which has helped him tremendously.

4:10 p.m. - Schwartz-Watts said Christian Helms has a "treatable mental illness" and the teen is not suicidal or homicidal anymore. She said he also has shown remorse for Karney."His potential for rehab is very good," she said.

4:15 p.m. - The defense has concluded their case and the judge is taking a short break before hearing closing arguments from the attorneys.

4:30 p.m. - Christian Helms' attorney, Russell Long, is making his argument to keep the teen in juvenile court and not to have him tried as an adult.

4:45 p.m. - Prosecutor Alicia Richardson is asking the judge to move the case to Circuit Court because of the seriousness of the incident and the charges.

5:05 p.m. - Judge Georgia Anderson said she will review the evidence on Thursday and return with a decision Friday morning.

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