Margaret Johnston, 80 years old, faced a jury trial on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 for the arresting charge of murder in the Honorable Judge, Casey Blair’s 86th District Court.
Johnston had allegedly shot and killed her 52-year-old daughter, Connie Lynn Helms in the afternoon of Sept. 14, 2021 at Johnston’s home. Johnston has been held in the Kaufman County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Helms had a gunshot wound in the right upper arm posterior. The bullet was recovered during the autopsy in the right ventricle of the heart, the center of her chest. The bullet hit Helms’s right lung and the two largest arteries in the body before it entered the Helms’s heart. Johnston used a 38 caliber revolver to shoot Helms, Johnston’s own daughter.
Following firing the gun, Johnston was forthcoming with the police admitting to them that she shot Helms.
Johnston tried to get Helms to leave, when Helms did not leave, Johnston walked to her bedroom, grabbed her 38 caliber revolver from under her pillow, raised the pistol standing in the doorway of her carport and shot one time at Helms who was between the two parked cars in the carport.
Johnston claims she shot Helms because Johnston was fearful that her daughters were going to put her in a nursing home. Helms was trying to get Johnston to write a will and put her in a nursing home. Helms had told doctors that Johnston had Alzheimer’s and dementia. Johnston stated, “I didn’t mean to kill her, I just wanted to scare her. She headed toward her gun in her car, and I shot her.”
Right after Johnston shot Helms, Helms stumbled and said, “You shot me,” before falling to the ground.
Johnston then approached Helms, “How does it feel to be dead you little b****?”
When Helms was shot, she was on the phone with sister Cindy Rowan-Stutts. When Johnston shot Helms, Johnston grabbed Helms’s phone and told Rowan-Stutts to call an ambulance because she had shot Helms. Not knowing she was deceased, Johnston thought Helms was faking. Johnston walked over to Helms, turned her over to realize her eyes were not moving. Johnston noted that she began to perform CPR on Helms, ended CPR and ran across the street to get help.
Helms had been staying at Johnston’s home off and on over the summer and the fighting had been happening for a while.
During Johnston’s interview with the Kaufman County Sheriff Investigators, Johnston stated, “I am very afraid of my daughter. She has made several threats over the year. I love my daughter and she has ruined my whole life. She has gotten me thrown out of my family. She hates me because I didn’t give her up to adoption. I heard all the kids got together to get me to write up a will and give them everything and have me committed.”
Officers testified at the trial about everything that Helms had done for Johnston and how nice Helms was to Johnston as well.
The jury in this case brought back their verdict late in the afternoon on Aug. 2. The jury found Johnston to be guilty of the charge of murder, a first degree felony.
The punishment phase of the trial was conducted on Aug. 3 back in Blair’s court room. Johnston waived her right to have the jury decide her sentence, Blair then sentenced Johnston to life with the right to appeal.