Helton's son Nicholas, 12, Emily Ann Preston, 10, and Caleb Hildenbrandt, 11, died of injuries from the crash. Lori Latham, 40, a passenger in the van died three months later from injuries she sustained in the crash.
A Kentucky State Police report stated that Helton's blood alcohol level was 0.16, twice the legal limit, and she was driving 30 mph over the posted 35 mph speed limit at the time of the accident.
In reading the agreement, Daugherty told Helton the facts alleged that she "acted wantonly and the circumstance manifested in extreme difference to human life by driving more than 30 mph above the speed limit while you were intoxicated, and in so doing, you created a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury."
Included in the agreement, was Helton's right to appeal whether or not a blood sample taken at the University of Kentucky Hospital for the purpose of the blood alcohol test, was taken illegally without a search warrant.
Ed Dove, Helton's attorney had filed a motion in March 2007 to have the test thrown out, saying Kentucky law requires a search warrant to obtain a blood sample and Helton was unconscious at the time it was taken.
At the time, Daugherty ruled that the sample could be used in court.
The appeal will go directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court and if the ruling is overturned, it could mean that the case would go to trial again, Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Lockridge said.
The agreement stated that Helton had previously been diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder and depression and was under the care of a doctor and receiving medication for the conditions.
By signing the agreement, Helton waived her right to a trial and the right to appeal the case with the exception of the blood sample issue.
Reaction to plea
After the proceedings, there were mixed emotions about the plea agreement.
Evan Hildenbrant, Caleb's father said it was a tough decision, but he agreed with the plea.
"Yeah, I agree with it, but I knew all along that no matter what happened here, it wasn't going to change anything for me personally," he said.
Families of the victims knew and agreed to the plea deal before it was presented to the court and Hildenbrant praised Lockridge and his office for keeping the families informed every step of the way.
Melissa Helton's husband, Gary Helton, said he was sorry for all the families in the accident and their loss because he had lost too.
He went on to say that he thought the penalty was too long but under the circumstances it was the best his wife could get.
"I think the plea was the best she could have gotten here in this courtroom," Gary Helton said. "I honestly think they gave her too much time, but I don't see any other way in this courtroom, with it being here and not moving it to another court and because the blood alcohol tests were allowed to be used in the case, against state laws."
Jessamine Fire District Chief Mike Rupard said the plea was a relief for several firefighters who responded to the accident and were scheduled to testify during the trial.
"We are still dealing with that accident scene every day and we didn't want to have to go before the court and especially the families and describe what we experienced that night," Rupard said. "We didn't want them to have to relive that night through our testomony. We didn't want to do that to the families."