Douglas Man Accused Of Murdering Cousin While Drinking Says He Blacked Out

A Douglas, Wyoming, man is being held on a $500,000 bond after allegedly shooting and killing his cousin while they talked and drank. He gave police contradictory statements about what happened, including that he blacked out.

Clair McFarland

September 18, 20233 min read

Mark Helms
Mark Helms (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Converse County authorities have charged a Douglas man with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting his cousin while the pair drank together. 

Mark Coleman Helms, who is 43 this year, could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted. 

The evidentiary affidavit filed Friday in his case is terse.

Converse County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Benjamin Peech arrested Helms on Thursday morning after Peech went to Helms’ home on Charles Street in Douglas, to investigate a report of a male who’d been shot. 

There he found Nicholas Michael Velazquez, 38, dead, lying on his back on the hallway floor outside Helms’ master bedroom with a single gunshot wound in his chest, according to the affidavit.

Drinking, Then Blacked Out

Helms confirmed to Peech that the house on Charles Street is his own home where he lives with his wife. 

Wednesday evening, Helms had invited Velazaquez, who was his cousin, to the home, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says Velazquez brought whiskey and beer. 

The two men drank together and talked that night while Helms’ wife remained in her bedroom, the document says. 

But then Helms’ memory blacked out. The next thing he remembered was performing CPR on Velazquez, he told law enforcement.

Helms did remember his wife yelling something about “Nick,” and he allegedly “recognized the person he shot as ‘Nick,’” the affidavit claims. 

“Mark (Helms) made additional contradictory statements to me about his memory of the events, including admissions that he had in fact fired the gun, but had been scared and unaware of who he was shooting at when he fired the gun,” wrote Peech in the affidavit.  

Helms’ wife also spoke with Peech. She said she was in bed when Helms came running into the room saying something about killing someone. 

He then ran around the bed and grabbed his rifle, the document says. 

Half A Million

Helms’ case is still at the preliminary level in Douglas Circuit Court. He is set for a hearing Sept. 21, where the court tentatively will hear the case against him and decide if probable cause exists to send it to the felony-level Converse County District Court. 

Helms’ bond is set at $500,000 cash-only, the Converse County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday. 

“The investigation is ongoing, but there is no danger to the community in relation to this case,” wrote the agency. 

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter