By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, August 13, 2004
HAMPTON - Helen Garland, already charged with allegedly beating her sister before she died, is now being accused of murder. Garland, 74, was indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury this week on second-degree murder charges in connection with the death of her 85-year-old sister, Alice Keyho.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Delaney said the grand jury was presented with additional evidence after his office received the final results of Keyho's autopsy report.
An indictment is not an indication of guilt or innocence, but means the grand jury found enough evidence to warrant a trial on the allegations.
Garland was already indicted in June on six counts of first-degree assault.
In July, a second autopsy certification from Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Jenny Duval ruled Keyho's death as a homicide.
Garland will not comment specifically about what happened the night her sister died on the advice of her attorney.
But according to court documents, Garland called 911 on March 23, at 6:40 a.m., reporting that her sister had fallen down the stairs to her death.
Initially, Garland allegedly told police the last time she saw her sister alive was on March 22, at 9 p.m.
Police began to suspect Garland may have had a hand in Keyho's death after medical examiner Gino Nigro found numerous bruises on Keyho's body that Garland couldn't explain.
Nigro also said Keyho died before 11 p.m. on March 22.
Nigro, who no longer works as a medical examiner, was indicted last month on charges of dispensing a controlled narcotic substance and attempted aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Police said Garland admitted to abusing Keyho when faced with the results of Nigro's report.
In affidavits unsealed by Hampton District Court Judge Francis Frasier, Garland told police that she "didn't mean to kill her sister."
According to the autopsy report, Keyho suffered bruises on her face and chest, two black eyes, bleeding between her brain and skull and 22 broken ribs.
Duval found geometric diamond patterned injuries on Keyho's arms and forehead. Police said they believe the wounds were allegedly caused by a diamond ring worn by Garland.
According to the affidavit, Garland admitted to beating her sister and backhanding Keyho in the mouth the day before her sister's death, causing Keyho to bleed.
Garland also admitted to dragging Keyho across the kitchen floor to the stairway.
"I don't hit her often," the affidavit quotes Garland of saying. "She'd grab hold of my hand so I couldn't hit her again. I would never hit her in the head, it was around the chin .... I might have kicked her but lots of times I did that to her."
The State Police Major Crime Unit was at the Philbrook Terrace home for two days gathering evidence. It seized bloody clothes from inside the trash in the garage and inside a hamper in the bathroom. It also seized 17 rings, including Garland's wedding band and an engagement ring.
It also reportedly found blood inside the garage, porch, kitchen, main hallway, bathroom and Keyho's bedroom.
Garland, who is free on $10,000 bail, is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charge at Rockingham Superior Court on Sept. 2.
Delaney said prosecutors might consider revisiting bail at the arraignment.