(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) - A St. Joseph man was sentenced in federal court Monday for illegally possessing methamphetamine and a stolen firearm that had been used in two recent shootings.
Jeremy G. Helton, 38, was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison without parole.
On Jan. 4, 2019, Helton pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
Helton was asleep in the driver's seat of a stolen Hyundai Elantra, which was obstructing a lane of traffic as it was sitting half on the grass and half on the roadway, at about 4:45 a.m. on May 28, 2018. When St. Joseph police officers arrived, the engine was running and the vehicle was in gear with the brake lights illuminated. Officers used their vehicles to box in Helton's vehicle, then an officer focused his spotlight on Helton, who started to wake up.
As officers opened the driver's door, Helton started thrashing about grabbing for his waistband, the steering wheel, windshield wiper controls, and the gear shifter. Officers were able to pull him from the vehicle as another officer took the vehicle out of gear and turned off the engine. As Helton was being removed from the vehicle, a loaded Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol fell to the ground. The firearm had previously been reported as stolen.
Officers arrested Helton and searched him. Officers found a large baggie with approximately 47.8 grams of methamphetamine in his shorts pocket, as well as a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue and a digital scale. Officers also searched Helton's vehicle and found four cell phones, a box of ammunition, two more glass pipes, and a suspected cutting agent for the methamphetamine.
Helton, who has a prior felony conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, told officers, "Felon or not, I'm always going to have a gun on me." According to court documents, investigators later learned the firearm recovered from Helton was used in two shootings in St. Joseph a few days earlier, on May 20 and May 25, 2018, based upon a comparison of recovered cartridge casings from the shootings.
Helton was on probation supervision for a Missouri felony non-support case at the time of these federal offenses. In addition to his prior felony conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, Helton has previously been convicted of the felony offenses of non-support, fraudulent use of a credit device, first-degree tampering (twice) and receiving stolen property (two counts).