CHRISTIANSBURG — The trial of McKenzie Kyle Hellman, a Christiansburg man accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, will be pushed back to October due to the coronavirus emergency orders that Virginia courts are working under.
That was the upshot of a short hearing Monday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, where Hellman, 26, was scheduled to begin a two-day jury trial.
Besides murder, Hellman faces six other charges involving sexual abuse, child abuse and child pornography. He was charged after the January 2019 death of toddler Steven Dale Meek II.
That Hellman’s trial would be postponed was no surprise. A series of emergency orders issued by the Supreme Court of Virginia, beginning in March and aimed at reducing the number of people in courthouses and limiting the spread of COVID-19, barred jury trials until at least June 28, when the present orders expire.
The emergency orders allow bench trials, where there is no jury and a judge decides the case, but defense attorney Fred Kellerman of Christiansburg and Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen said they were opting for a jury.
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Judge Robert Turk set Oct. 5 and 6 as Hellman’s new trial dates.
The mother of the slain boy, Kayla Nicole Thomas, also 26, also faces charges alleging child abuse, sexual abuse, and making and reproducing child pornography. She has a plea hearing scheduled for Aug. 26.