Jury to begin deliberating quintuple murderer’s fate

MARTINEZ – The jury that found Justin Helzer guilty of murdering five people, then decided he was sane when he did it, now must decide whether he should die for his crimes.

The sentencing phase of the 32-year-old man’s trial concluded Monday in Contra Costa County Superior Court. Closing arguments were scheduled for Wednesday, then jurors must decide between life in prison and the death penalty for Helzer.

Helzer was convicted last month of killing Selina Bishop, the 22-year-old daughter of blues guitarist Elvin Bishop, her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and an elderly Concord couple who once employed Helzer’s older brother as their stockbroker. The killings were part of an extortion scheme to earn money for the Helzer brothers’ self-awareness group they believed would hasten Christ’s return to Earth.

Earlier this month, the jury decided Helzer was sane when the crimes occurred in the summer of 2000.

Helzer’s brother and the group’s ringleader, Glenn Helzer, already pleaded guilty and faces the death penalty. His sentencing phase will begin this fall.

Dawn Godman, the brothers’ roommate, also pleaded guilty. She testified against Helzer in exchange for a lengthy prison sentence.

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Associated Press, USA
July 28, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 28, 2004.
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