Closing arguments were to begin today (Wednesday) in a jury trial for a Cowan man who says he shot his friend in self-defense.
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr., 26, of 2165 Bo Fork, testified in Letcher Circuit Court on March 2 that he shot 22-year-old Dustin Helton around 7:30 p.m. on July 1, 2009 at a fairly close range with a 20-gauge shotgun because he thought Helton was going to attack him.
“He made me fear for my life,” said Boggs.
Boggs testified that he was walking by Helton’s father Drew Helton’s house located at 538 Log House Branch while carrying a shotgun when Dustin Helton, who was armed with a pocketknife, ran from his father’s porch to where Boggs was walking on the road.
“He said ‘You either get or I’ll gut you,’” said Boggs. “I said ‘Buddy, I don’t want any problems.’”
Boggs testified that Dustin Helton kept moving closer to Boggs so he told him to stop or he would shoot.
“To tell you the truth I was aiming for the upper part of his leg and I missed,” said Boggs.
Dustin Helton testified that he walked from the porch to the road to nicely ask Boggs if he would not carry a gun while walking past his house because his younger brothers play outside.
“I just said ‘Gary Wayne,’” said Dustin Helton. “That was the only thing I said. He turned around and said ‘Dustin, you take another step and I will shoot you.’”
Dustin Helton, who said he was not armed with a pocketknife at the time of the shooting, testified that when he threw his hands up in the air, he was in the process of turning around to step back when he was shot in the left side of his abdomen.
“Once he shot me I remember grabbing my intestines,” said Helton. “I tried to take a step but my leg gave out and I fell. I just wanted to stay awake. I was afraid if I passed out I wouldn’t make it.”
Kasie Rogers, a licensed emergency medical technician for the Letcher and Neon fire and rescue squads, and Regina Caudill, a registered nurse at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital, both testified that Dustin Helton had “life-threatening” injuries.
“He was in severe pain,” said Rog- ers, who took care of Dustin Helton while he was being transported to the Whitesburg hospital by ambulance. “He was moving around so bad in pain he kept knocking off his oxygen mask.”
After receiving care at the Whitesburg hospital for about an hour, Dustin Helton was flown by helicopter to Holston Valley Medical Center in Tennessee.
“I lost oxygen to my brain, to my heart for 10 minutes,” said Dustin Helton. “(Medical personnel) had to crack my chest to massage my heart.”
Dustin Helton said he spent 29 days in Holston Valley Medical Center, during 19 of which he was unconscious because of medical sedation.
He said he had tubes placed in his side, chest and throat.
Helton, who has a 19-month-old son and a fi- ancée who live in Alabama, said his medical bills associated with the gunshot wound injuries total $1.5 million and his doctor won’t release him to return to work. He isn’t supposed to lift more than 25 pounds, ride a bicycle or drive a vehicle.
Before the shooting, Helton weighed 217 pounds and but now weighs 139 pounds. He testified that he has injuries that have yet to heal and is hopeful a colostomy bag will be removed in June.
Helton testified that he and Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. were friends and he doesn’t know why Boggs shot him that day.
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. testified that on the day of the shooting he had walked from his father’s house past the Helton residence to try to sell the shotgun for $500 to Jim Howard, who lived past his uncle Johnny Boggs’s residence. Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. testified that he bought the shotgun from a cousin for $75 and he used it to squirrel hunt.
Kathy, Drew and Dustin Helton all testified that they heard a gunshot shortly before they saw Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. on July 1, 2009. Gary Wayne Boggs testified that he saw a copperhead in a field and shot it.
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. testified that on his way to Howard’s house, he saw Dustin Helton was sitting on Drew Helton’s porch and that Dustin Helton said, ‘That’s a good way to get shot.’
“My response was that I don’t have time to fool with you and I kept walking to my uncle’s,” said Gary Wayne Boggs Jr.
Kathy, Drew and Dustin Helton each testified that Dustin Helton did not say ‘That’s a good way to get shot’ but had jokingly asked Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. if he had a permit for his gun, at which time Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. slapped his back pocket and kept walking toward Johnny Boggs’s residence.
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. said Johnny Boggs told him that Howard was not at his house. Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. said he walked back towards his father’s house when Dustin Helton approached him near the roadway just before Dustin Helton was shot.
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr.’s family members testified of disputes among Heltons and the Boggses.
Stella Boggs, Gary Wayne Boggs’s aunt who lives near Drew Helton, said the Heltons were taking out a culvert that belonged to her husband, Johnny. Stella and Johnny Boggs both testified that the culvert was located on the Boggs’s property.
“One day (Drew Helton) was digging with a backhoe on my property,” said Johnny Boggs. “I asked him about it and he didn’t like it.”
Stella Boggs also said she has called the police after the Heltons got loud a couple of times.
“They were partying and drinking and I called the law,” said Stella Boggs.
Stella and Johnny Boggs as well as Gary Wayne Boggs Jr.’s uncle, Randy Joe Boggs, his cousin, Elvie Boggs, and his father, Gary Wayne Boggs Sr., all testified that Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. had told each of them that Drew Helton had threatened to kill Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. if he walked past Drew Helton’s property again.
“Drew and his woman told him if they caught him in the hollow again they were going to shoot him,” said Randy Joe Boggs.
Drew Helton testified that he did ask Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. to not come to his house while he was at work and while his wife, Kathy Sue Helton, was home alone. Drew Helton said Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. had come on the porch one day while Kathy Helton was in the shower and startled her when she heard a noise and looked out the bathroom window to see Boggs standing outside.
“Two weeks before the shooting I told him not to come back on my property because my wife asked me to ask him not to come back on the property because she was scared of him,” said Drew Helton.
Dustin Helton testified that in November of 2008 he paid all of Gary Wayne Boggs Jr.’s expenses on a three-day trip to Alabama to pay a speeding ticket and visit Helton’s fiancée and child.
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. testified that during the trip Dustin Helton “hauled a bunch of meth to Alabama and sold it.”
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. testified that he told Dustin Helton that he didn’t want any part of hauling and selling meth.
“Man, I can’t take chances like that,” said Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. “There’s nothing in it for me. Next time you go, go by yourself.”
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. said he saw Dustin Helton the day after he returned from Alabama when Dustin Helton took a sack of feed to Gary Wayne Boggs Sr.’s house for a horse Dustin Helton owned and kept at Gary Wayne Boggs Sr.’s.That day he told the Boggses he sold the horse and Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. said he didn’t see Dustin Helton again until the day of the shooting.
Gary Wayne Boggs Jr.’s defense attorney Richard Counts asked him if he was sorry for shooting Dustin Helton.
“Yes, I am sorry about what happened to Dustin,” said Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. “I believe my life was in danger when I shot him.”
L etcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks asked Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. if he thought the shotgun was worth selling for $500 since he bought it for $75.
“If somebody gave $500, it’d be worth $500,” said Gary Wayne Boggs Jr.
Banks told Gary Wayne Boggs Jr. that the gun would be worth $1,000 if he hadn’t shot Dustin Helton.
“Yes, then I wouldn’t be here,” said Gary Wayne Boggs Jr.