Charges against a Whiteford man who allegedly used a lighter and Axe deodorant can to shoot flames at his kids were dropped this week so the children wouldn't have to testify, a Harford County prosecutor said.
Steven Kenneth Helgason, 43, of the 1500 block of Kerr Road, had been charged with four counts of second-degree child abuse, four counts of second-degree assault and four counts of reckless endangerment after an alleged incident in November 2011 in which he allegedly used an aerosol can of Axe deodorant and a lighter to burn two of his children's hair.
Helgason's trial in Harford County Circuit Court was scheduled to begin Wednesday, but at a hearing Monday, the Harford County State's Attorney's Office dropped the charges, according to online court records.
"It was for the children. They are too traumatized to be able to testify," Deputy State's Attorney Diana Brooks, who was prosecuting the case, said Monday afternoon.
Brooks said the state's case couldn't be based on the children's statements or depositions; they had to appear in court and testify on the witness stand.
"After talking at great length with their mother and their counselor, they've both been through a lot," Brooks said of the decision not to go forward with prosecuting the case.
The two children who were involved in the alleged incident are in foster care, Brooks said. Helgason has eight children. He was found guilty of second-degree assault in 2006 and child abuse in 1998, according to court records.
Helgason was originally held without bail, which was later reduced to $200,000. He was released in March on a $50,000 corporate bond.