Florida man collapses in tears, falls to the ground, after Gov. Ron DeSantis denies pardon

By: - December 4, 2019 1:37 pm

Roy Allen Helmick, Jr. pleads for a pardon. Gov. Ron DeSantis denies it, and Helmick cries and falls to the ground. Credit: Screenshot, Florida Channel.

When Roy Allen Helmick Jr., 61, approached the podium during Wednesday’s Executive Clemency meeting, he appeared hopeful that Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Cabinet members would grant him a pardon for his past crimes.

But in a shocking few moments, the governor said, no. Helmick burst into tears, in agony, and begged for a different outcome.

Then he collapsed to the ground in the Cabinet meeting room in the state Capitol building in Tallahassee.

“Does he need medical?” the governor asked, as Helmick remained on the floor. Finally, an aide helped him to his feet. Helmick eventually left the meeting room.

The drama unfolded during the last Executive Clemency Meeting of 2019, a time for convicted felons to try to regain their civil rights. The panel reviewing the cases consists of the governor and three Cabinet members: Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

The panel considered over 60 cases Wednesday.

But in Helmick’s case, only Gov. DeSantis began to ask questions and Helmick’s fate was clearly in the hands of the Republican governor.

State records show that Helmick was convicted of crimes in 1994, 25 years ago, and is on the state’s sexual offender list – based on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website.

The FDLE website provides a “crime description” based on Florida statutes. The first statute listed is: “Person 18 Or Older Commits Sexual Battery And/Or Injures Sexual Organs Of A Victim Less Than 12.” The second statute listed is: “Lewdly Fondle Or Assault, Commit Or Simulate Sexual Acts On Or In Presence Of A Child Under 16 In A Lewd, Lascivious Or Indecent Manner.”

“Can you tell us what you’ve done wrong?” DeSantis asked.  “I mean you have quite a rap sheet and we only have three minutes so if you can do it as quickly as you can… why given all this, do you think that you deserve clemency?”

Helmick offered numerous explanations.

He said at the public meeting that his former wife “had a very bad drug problem.”

He also said: “I lost my front teeth because I caught her in bed with several different men. I can take them out if you want to see.”

And he said, “I am a minister of the Gospel, I prayed for a Godly woman and God granted me with that,” a reference to his current wife who was at the meeting. Helmick said he’s been married 19 years to his current wife.

Throughout the meeting, DeSantis, a Harvard trained lawyer, kept a straight face without showing much emotion. He often looked down, not giving much eye contact.

“You’re not taking responsibility for anything,” DeSantis told Helmick.

“This forum really isn’t to contest the facts on it, this forum is really for people who have been convicted and say ‘they did wrong’ and what they’ve done to turn their life around.”

DeSantis concluded: “We’ll deny the case.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.