Submitted: November 17, 2015
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Jefferson City
COLLOTON, GRUENDER, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.
March 1996, Dale Helmig ("Helmig") was convicted by
a jury in the Circuit Court of Gasonade County, Missouri of
the first-degree murder of his mother, Norma Helmig. The
conviction was affirmed. State v. Helmig, 950 S.W.2d
649 (Mo.Ct.App. 1997). Post-conviction relief was denied, and
the denial was affirmed. Helmig v. State, 42 S.W.3d
658 (Mo.Ct.App. 2001). In 2009 Helmig sought habeas relief in
state court, and in 2011 the Missouri Court of Appeals
vacated his conviction and gave the State 180 days to retry
him. State ex rel. Koster v. McElwain, 340 S.W.3d
221, 258 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011). The State declined to retry
Helmig. Helmig then filed suit in federal court against law
enforcement officers and Osage County, Missouri under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that they violated his
constitutional right to due process by not disclosing certain
materially favorable evidence, fabricating evidence, and
conspiring to misuse evidence. The district
court granted summary judgment to the officers
and Osage County. Helmig appeals, and we affirm.
Helmig ("Norma") was murdered in July 1993. At the
time of her death, Norma was separated and in the process of
getting a divorce from Ted Helmig ("Ted"),
Appellant Dale Helmig's father. On occasion, Dale Helmig
spent the night at his mother's home in Pointer's
was away from her home on the evening of Wednesday, July 28,
1993, and returned home sometime in the early morning hours
on Thursday, July 29, 1993. On Wednesday, July 28, 1993,
Helmig was working in Holt's Summit, Missouri. Because
roads were closed due to flooding, Helmig checked into a
hotel in Fulton, Missouri. On Thursday, July 29, 1993, Helmig
spent the night with Stacey Medlock at a motel in Eldon,
Missouri. He tried to call his mother on Thursday, but Norma
Friday, July 30, 1993, Helmig drove with Medlock to his
mother's home around noon. When he discovered that his
mother was not home, Helmig called the police. Osage County
Deputy Sheriff Paul Backues was dispatched to the house.
Helmig told Deputy Backues that he had recently been staying
with his mother but had been gone for several days for work.
He showed Deputy Backues some things that were out of order,
and Deputy Backues called Osage County Sheriff Carl Fowler to
the scene. Helmig mentioned to Deputy Backues that Helmig had
visitation with his two children the next day, Saturday, July
31, 1993. Deputy Backues told Helmig that his children should
not be at Norma's house while the search was ongoing.
Fowler and Deputy Backues were still at the house when Helmig
and Medlock left. As they drove away, Medlock thought Helmig
seemed worried. He told Medlock, "Someone must have
gotten crazy drunk and killed her."
Saturday, July 31, 1993, the police conducted an aerial
search around Norma's home. Helmig was not present during
the search. Norma's body was found in a nearby river on
Sunday, August 1, 1993. An expert later determined that the
time of death was probably between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on
Thursday, July 29, 1993, and that asphyxiation was the likely
cause of death.
March 1994, Helmig was arrested and charged with his
mother's murder. Helmig was tried by a jury in March
1996. The state's case rested entirely upon
circumstantial evidence. Sheriff Fowler and Deputy Backues
were among the State's witnesses.
to trial, Sheriff Fowler, the prosecution, and Helmig's
attorney were aware that Norma and Ted were in a divorce
proceeding. They were also aware that Norma had taken the
following actions: accused Ted of physical abuse, inquired of
Sheriff Fowler about a gun, been in contact with Sheriff
Fowler about her divorce, and caused a temporary restraining
order to be issued and served on Ted.
trial, Sheriff Fowler testified that Norma and Ted were going
through a divorce, he served the divorce papers on Ted, and
Norma had contacted the sheriff's office "on a
number of occasions" about the divorce situation.
Sheriff Fowler further testified that he served a temporary
restraining order on Ted as part of the divorce, and Norma
was concerned about the restraining order. He explained that
a restraint against physical threats was "pretty much a
given" in such an order. Sheriff Fowler also
acknowledged that he had received a police report with
respect to an incident in which Ted threw coffee at Norma at
the Country Kitchen restaurant and told her, "I'm
going to have to end this once and for all."
second day of the jury trial, Prosecuting Attorney Robert
Schollmeyer learned of a report of an altercation between
Appellant Dale Helmig and Norma at the Country Kitchen.
Schollmeyer shared the information with Sheriff Fowler,
Helmig's counsel, and the court. Sheriff Fowler was not
previously aware of this report. On the State's re-direct
examination of Sheriff Fowler, he was asked whether he had
become aware of the altercation between Dale Helmig and his
mother, to which ...