McKenzie Hellman Gets 2 Life Sentences Plus 90 Years for Murder of Steven Meek
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Virginia Man Gets Two Life Sentences Plus 90 Years for Sexually Abusing and Murdering His Girlfriend’s 2-Year-Old Son

McKenzie Hellman

A Virginia man was sentenced to two life terms in prison plus 90 years on Tuesday after pleading guilty in July to second-degree murder and abuse in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s son, local news stations reported.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, McKenzie Kyle Hellman, 27, last month pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse and neglect in the Jan. 2019 death of 2-year-old Steven Dale Meek II.

A jury had previously found Hellman guilty on multiple charges of physical and sexual abuse of Meek, including accessory to object sexual penetration of a child, accessory to forcible sodomy, accessory to produce and distribute child sexual abuse material (child pornography), and possession of child sexual abuse material. He was sentenced to two life sentences for the abuse crimes.

Appearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court Tuesday morning, Judge Robert Turk handed down the additional sentence, which means Hellman’s total sentence breaks down as follows:

  • Life sentence for object sexual penetration
  • Life sentence for forcible sodomy
  • 30 years for producing child porn
  • 10 years for distributing child porn
  • 5 years for possessing child porn
  • 40 years for murder
  • 5 years for child abuse and neglect

According to a report from The Roanoke Times, the sentence “combined the two life terms plus 45 years that a jury recommended in March after convicting Hellman on an array of sex abuse and pornography charges, and the maximum sentence for the second-degree murder and child abuse charges to which Hellman admitted his guilt last month.”

Multiple members of Meek’s family also spoke during Tuesday’s hearing, with his father, Steven Meek, saying, “We will miss him more than words can describe,” the Roanoke Times reported.

Meek’s mother, Kayla Thomas, was convicted in June on multiple charges of sexually abusing the boy and producing child sexual abuse material, according to Virginia court records. A jury recommended that she serve two life sentences plus 10 years. She is currently awaiting her sentencing hearing, which is scheduled to take place on Sept. 23.

Hellman initially denied having any involvement in Meek’s death, telling police that his own 2-year-old son and Meek were horsing around and jumping on the bed when Meek fell and hit his head. Hellman later changed his story and told investigators that he couldn’t remember what happened to the boy. He then backtracked a second time, and said that he was breaking up a fight between the boys and may have accidentally pushed Meek into a dresser.

However, Hellman’s son later told his mother that Hellman had “hit and kicked” Meek.

After Meek sustained the fatal injuries, Hellman called 911. Emergency responders reported seeing that Meek “had noticeable bruising to both eyelids and an abrasion to his forehead, was not breathing, and had no detectable heartbeat,” according a statement from the office of Mary Pettitt, the Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

A disturbing autopsy report determined that Meek had 22 separate blunt injuries, bruises, and scrapes on his head as well as an additional 13 injuries on the underside of his scalp and 10 injuries to his torso.

“Steven [Meek] had significant bleeding around his brain,” the report from Dr. Amy Tharp stated. “When born our skulls are several bones that are not attached – they are connected by soft tissue. As a baby grows the bones close together to form a solid skull. In Steven’s case, the bleeding around his brain and the pressure was so significant that it popped those bones back open.”

[Image via Montgomery County Jail]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.