Man charged with two murders 24 years apart sentenced in Union County slaying

A man charged with two shotgun slayings 24 years apart, in Union and Anson counties, has been sentenced to prison for one of them. Charges in the second case were dismissed.

The victims in both cases were shot in the back with a shotgun by an assailant who had sneaked up on them.

Eddie “Clyde” Helms, 64, pleaded guilty Thursday in Union County Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of Charles Ronald Godwin, 60. Helms had been charged with first-degree murder, with a trial set to begin Oct. 2.

Eddie “Clyde” Helms was sentenced to at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter in a 2012 case in Union County. File

An Anson County court, meanwhile, dismissed a first-degree murder charge against Helms for a 1988 slaying. Helms had been charged with killing John Terow Griffin III, 39.

As part of Helms’ Union County plea, five other charges – two of misdemeanor stalking, two of soliciting someone to commit a felony, and one of firing into occupied property – were dismissed.

Helms had been charged with stalking Godwin, the Union County slaying victim, and a female friend who had recently ended a relationship with Helms. A grand jury had indicted Helms in 2015 on charges he tried to entice two Union County Jail inmates to kill a witness against him.

Helms was sentenced to a prison term of between six years eight months and nine years. The sentence was the maximum that Helms, who had no record of criminal convictions, could face for the charge.

Mary Beth Usher, the assistant district attorney in Union County who handled the case, said prosecutors “took the (murder) case as far as the evidence would allow us.”

Evidence in the 29-year-old Anson County case would be too old to be admissible in the Union County prosecution, she said. Godwin’s family urged prosecutors to accept Helms’ plea offer, Usher said.

Plea negotiations in the Union County case were separate from the Anson case, Usher said.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender