By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Five additional witnesses testified Thursday, July 16, in the second day of testimony in a civil trial for a lawsuit involving a shooting death that occurred in 2014.
Among those testifying were Tadd Martin and Daniel Foster, two of the bail recovery agents who were present during a gunfight on Aug. 25, 2014, that resulted in Gary Helman’s death. Gary is Larry Helman’s twin brother and Atta Helman’s son. The Helmans are suing Barnett’s Bail Bonds, three bail recovery agents and an insurance agency for damages resulting from Gary’s death.
Attorney Bradley Colborn, who is representing the Helmans, called former Kosciusko County Sheriff Rocky Goshert as the first witness in Thursday’s proceedings. Goshert said he met with Myra Barnett of Barnett’s Bail Bonds two times about apprehending Gary. According to Goshert’s testimony, Barnett said she was going to get bail recovery agents to retrieve Gary. Goshert said he didn’t offer any assistance from the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, but told Barnett to be careful “because someone could get shot.”
Goshert also referenced the incident where the county’s SWAT team was called to serve warrants at 9174 E. Doswell Blvd., Cromwell, where Gary stayed on occasion. For that deployment, Goshert said they made sure it was just Gary and Gary’s brother, Michael, who were home at the time.
Colborn then called Barnett to testify. Barnett formerly worked as a licensed bail bondsman but is now retired. In her testimony, Barnett said she and her husband used to go out and recover people themselves; however, as the couple got older, they began contracting bail recovery agents for assistance.
Barnett discussed the process of signing paperwork to bond someone out of jail, as well as how Barnett’s Bail Bonds worked with bail recovery agents. An order to produce is issued by the courts to bail bondsmen to bring forth a defendant if they have bonded out of jail but fail to appear in court. Barnett also elaborated on the definition of indemnitor, which is the person who signs paperwork agreeing to assure that a defendant will appear in court.
Barnett said there were verbal agreements between Barnett’s Bail Bonds and bail recovery agents they worked with about bringing in specific people. Colborn then asked about breaking and entering into residences or using violence against fugitives.
“We do it as safely as possible,” said Barnett. “We don’t do that type of thing.”
Barnett also said that when she and her husband used to recover fugitives, they did not have weapons on their person.
“But we look back on that (not having weapons) and find that stupid,” said Barnett. “It was like, ‘What were we thinking?'”
In her testimony, Barnett said she never personally met Gary and that she attempted calling both Gary and Atta about failing to appear for court. However, Gary and Atta never answered or returned Barnett’s calls.
Barnett also went to the Cromwell residence several times to see if Gary was outside of the residence and asked neighbors about a “For Sale” sign at the home. Neighbors told Barnett that the family said they were moving to Colorado.
“I saw that as a red flag,” said Barnett.
Barnett told Tadd Martin, one of the bail recovery agents involved in the shooting, that there should not be any firearms within the residence since Gary was a convicted felon. Barnett later noticed on Gary’s Facebook page that he wanted to talk with the media to “get his story out there.” She reached out to former local reporter, Stacey Staley, and asked if she would be interested in contacting Gary for an interview while talking with bail recovery agents to assist in apprehending Gary. Barnett said she was contacted about the shooting incident by Daniel Foster the morning after it occurred and said she “was very upset.”
In cross-examination, Jay Rigdon, representing Barnett’s Bail Bonds, asked how many bond cases a year she typically would use bail recovery agents for. Barnett estimated approximately 10 percent.
“Did you ever tell Tadd Martin to bring Gary Helman in dead or alive?” asked Rigdon.
“Oh my gosh no,” said Barnett.
Martin also cross-examined Barnett and asked her about their initial meeting.
“I thought you (Tadd) were trustworthy and respectful,” said Barnett. “We had a good working relationship and never had any issues.”
Foster was then called to the stand for testimony.
Colborn asked Foster if he ever saw Martin kick down front doors of a residence or physically harm people while recovering fugitives. Foster said he never witnessed any incidents like that.
Foster said that prior to the 2014 shooting, he was aware of a 2009 incident where officers surrounded the Cromwell residence and shot Gary because they believed he had a gun in his hands.
“The case was given more care because of lawsuit concerns,” said Foster in regards to retrieving Gary.
He also said he had no contact with Staley, but that Staley told Martin who was inside the residence and what they were wearing.
In his testimony, Foster said the plan was to knock on the front door, state why they were present and make enough noise to bring Gary out of the residence.
“We always try to keep the situation calm for safety,” said Foster, stating that neighbors were informed an apprehension was going to take place prior to the shooting. “The fugitive has 100 percent control over whether a situation becomes dangerous.”
Foster said he completed between 70 to 100 recoveries alongside Martin and considers him a friend.
“We had each other’s backs,” said Foster.
In regards to the 2014 shooting, Foster said he recalls Atta Helman “asking God to come and kill Tadd.”
“I felt helpless,” said Foster. “I didn’t know where Gary was at. But he (Tadd) calmed me down. The way he handled himself…he put a tourniquet on his own leg.”
The final witness that Colborn called for testimony was Martin.
Martin said he was warned by Barnett that the Helman family was “unstable and sue-happy.”
“They were described as duplicitous, deceitful, seedy people,” said Martin.
In his testimony, Martin said he was also aware that Gary had “a history of being unwilling to participate in societal norms” and that Gary’s Facebook page was anti-government and anti-police.
Martin then elaborated on an incident where both he and Foster approached the Cromwell home to act as prospective buyers of the residence when the “For Sale” sign was visible. When Colborn asked why they did not say there was a warrant out for Gary’s arrest at that time, Martin said that Barnett’s Bail Bonds had already done as much.
Martin also discussed the June 2014 incident where both Martin and Foster were at the home looking for Gary when they were approached by Larry. According to Martin, at the time he was not aware that Gary had an identical twin.
According to Martin’s testimony, Larry asked the two of them if they were with the county and that Martin told Larry they were bondsmen. After a discussion, Larry then went to his vehicle and Martin asked to see his hands at all times. During that time, Martin said Larry put his hands on him two times and also threatened to kill him twice.
“He (Larry) later told us that Gary was in Missouri,” said Martin.
In the 2014 shooting incident, Martin said he attempted to sequester Atta in order to keep her safe but that Gary shot past her anyway. Martin also denied ever having a gun to Atta’s head, which is being alleged by the plaintiffs.
Martin said he was shot twice by Gary and saw Larry charging at him after he was shot, leading Martin to shoot Larry and then Gary.
Attorney Angela Hall, also representing Lexington National Insurance Corporation, asked Martin why he shot Larry.
“To keep from being killed by Larry Helman,” said Martin. “I shot him once and I didn’t want to shoot him.”
Hall then asked Martin why he shot Gary.
“The only way I was going to keep from being killed by that man was by returning fire,” said Martin.
In redirect, Colborn asked Martin why he said he shot Larry once when Larry had been shot twice. Martin said the second bullet injury Larry sustained was from Gary’s firearm.
“Bullets don’t stop just because they hit a person,” said Martin, stating that a bullet that Gary shot at Martin struck Larry.
The plaintiffs rested their case at approximately 3:10 p.m. The only witness called to the stand on the defendants’ side was Mark Holtschneider, executive vice-president with Lexington National Insurance Corporation.
In his testimony, Holtschneider explained the definitions of surety and bail agent, as well as Lexington’s connection with Barnett’s Bail Bonds.
Barnett’s Bail Bonds, Martin and Foster did not call any witnesses for testimony.
The defense then rested, with jury dismissed for the day at approximately 4:30 p.m.
The trial will continue Friday, July 17, in Kosciusko Circuit Court at 8:30 a.m. After closing arguments, jury deliberation will commence. The jury will be given special instructions to determine whether or not facts show the defendants in the case committed negligence, battery, trespass, intimidation and residential entry toward the Helmans and their property. If it is determined that wrongful acts were committed against the Helmans, a second phase of the trial will commence that focuses on determining what compensatory damages the Helmans are entitled to.