By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, June 18, 2004
HAMPTON - Helen Garland, accused of beating sister Alice Keyho repeatedly before the 85-year-old woman's death, was indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury last week on six counts of first-degree assault.
Whether Garland, 75, will face charges of murder is still to be determined.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Delaney said the case remains under investigation.
The exact cause and manner of Keyho's death are still unknown as certain tests from an autopsy done by Deputy State Medical Examiner Jennie Duval have not come back, said Delaney.
Once those results come back, Delaney said his office will have a better idea whether Garland will face additional charges.
Garland was arrested March 26 after she allegedly admitted to kicking and beating her older sister, who was found dead March 23 on an enclosed porch at the home they shared.
An indictment is not an indication of guilt; rather, it means the grand jury found sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.
The indictments handed down last week accuse Garland of kicking Keyho in the back, and striking her in the mouth and in the head.
Although the felony-level charges usually carry a maximum 7½- to 15-year jail penalty, Garland could face 10-30 years in jail on each of the six counts if she's convicted.
Garland could face the longer sentence if convicted because she allegedly committed the acts with the "intention of taking advantage of Keyho's age or physical disability."
Court documents unsealed in the case two weeks ago revealed more details in Garland's and Keyho's troubled relationship.
According to court documents, Garland admitted to police to beating Keyho on a regular basis.
When asked to elaborate further on her alleged abuse toward Keyho, Garland said in court documents, "I don't hit her often. She'd grab hold of my hand so I couldn't hit her in the head. I would never hit her in the head, it was around her chin."
The investigation into Keyho's death began shortly after Garland called 911 at 6:40 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23.
Garland told police her sister had fallen down the stairs between the kitchen and an enclosed porch.
The initial autopsy report revealed Keyho had suffered extensive visible and internal injuries 22 broken ribs, two black eyes, abrasions on her face, brain hemorrhaging and a post-mortem abrasion on her back that appeared to be from being dragged.
When questioned by police about the findings in the autopsy report, Garland allegedly admitted to police that she was not happy that her sister was living with her and she was a burden.
Garland also allegedly admitted to police that she beat her sister in the kitchen on March 21 and allegedly dragged Keyho's body onto the enclosed porch, where she left her until Tuesday morning when she called 911.