By Lara Bricker
Hampton Union, Sunday, March 28, 2004
[Staff photo by Sarah Zenewicz]
HAMPTON - Helen Garland rested her arms on the sides of an old, wooden chair and looked out the window of the Hampton District Court Saturday morning as she was formally arraigned on charges she allegedly beat her 85-year-old sister repeatedly before her death.
Her sister, Alice Keyho, was found dead by police and rescue personnel Tuesday morning with multiple injuries, including 22 broken ribs. Garland, 74, told police she may have hit her sister a few times but didn't mean to kill her. The sisters shared Garland's home at 10 Philbrook Terrace, but Garland said she wasn't happy about the living arrangement, saying Keyho was a burden, according to court documents.
Hampton District Court Judge Francis Frasier ordered Garland held on $25,000 cash or surety bail with conditions that she not have any contact with her family, not leave the state and not commit any crimes. Garland did not cry as the complaints of three counts of first-degree assault were read, but looked out the window and at her hands.
She was led into the second-floor courtroom of Hampton District Court by state police, who transported her to the court from the Rockingham County jail, where she spent the night. Garland was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, blue sneakers and white socks. Her dark hair, which was in curlers when police arrested her at her Philbrook Terrace home Friday, was not styled. She did not look at the throng of media assembled in the courtroom or the four elderly women who said they were her friends.
As the charges are felonies, no plea was entered. Garland did not have an attorney and told the judge she wasn't sure if she would apply for court-appointed counsel. She is scheduled to be back in court April 5 at 11 a.m. for a probable cause hearing. She is also allowed to ask for a bail review hearing when she gets a lawyer.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Delaney said authorities are still investigating whether they will file murder charges against Garland. That decision will be made when final autopsy results are completed. Authorities have not released an exact cause or manner in relation to Keyho's death, saying more autopsy work is pending.
Authorities allege Garland and Keyho were not getting along Sunday afternoon, March 21. Garland later told police during an interview that she beat her sister in the kitchen, then threw her some wet paper towels and told her to clean herself and the floor. She then allegedly dragged Keyho's body onto an enclosed porch, where she left her until Tuesday morning when she called 911.
Keyho - who was deaf, according to those who knew her - suffered bruises all over her face and chest, two black eyes, bleeding between her brain and skull and 22 broken ribs, according to autopsy results by Dr. Jennie Duval, deputy chief state medical examiner. Keyho also had a large post-mortem abrasion on her back, which appears to be from being dragged across the floor. Delaney said he could not comment on whether there was evidence of old injuries. Hampton police said they have not received any reports of prior abuse from 10 Philbrook Terrace.
Keyho moved to live with Garland last May after her brother, with whom she previously lived, had a heart attack. According to a source who knows Garland, the brother moved in with his daughter - Garland's niece - who was building a new house. The house did not have a room for Keyho, who was sent to live with Garland. The source said it was common knowledge the two sisters did not get along.
Although the felony-level charges usually carry a maximum 7½- to 15-year jail penalty, prosecutors used an enhanced penalty because Garland allegedly committed the acts with the "intention of taking advantage of Keyho's age or physical disability", Delaney said. Garland could face 10 to 30 years in jail on each of the three counts if she is convicted.
Garland initially told police she thought Keyho had fallen down the stairs between the kitchen and enclosed porch. But Thursday night, she acknowledged she had hit Keyho Sunday and a few times before that. Keyho did not have a local doctor and had not had medical care in a number of years, her sister told police. She was not on any medications.
Garland said, on Sunday, her sister was sitting in the kitchen and she "backhanded" her across the mouth, causing it to bleed, an affidavit states. She also said she kicked her a few times, but had slippers on when she did it.
Garland told police she may have hit her sister on the head or face at the most four times before the Sunday beating.
"When I hit her, she would bite her lips and bleed," Garland reportedly told police.