CHRISTIANSBURG — A jury trial for McKenzie Hellman was again delayed last week due to the coronavirus pandemic, with charges of murder, child pornography and more now set to be heard in March.
Hellman, 26, of Christiansburg, was scheduled for a two-day jury trial beginning Monday — itself a rescheduling from June. But with the Virginia Supreme Court’s latest emergency order still barring most court systems from holding jury trials, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Turk used Monday’s hearing to move Hellman’s case to next year, with trial dates set for March 15 and 16.
Hellman was arrested after the January 2019 death of 2-year-old Steven Dale Meek II, the son of Hellman’s girlfriend. Investigators have said Hellman directed his girlfriend to make pornographic videos of herself abusing the toddler to see how it would affect his own sexual feelings.
In a separate incident, Steven sustained fatal head injuries, according to testimony at a December hearing. Police officers said Hellman gave several different accounts of the incident in which Steven sustained the injuries, including that he had hit the boy in the head, that he pushed him so that Steven fell and hit his head on a dresser, and that Steven fell out of bed.
An assistant state medical examiner testified in December that among the many injuries she found when she conducted Steven’s autopsy, there were 22 different blunt force injuries to his head. The wounds were inconsistent with anything a fall from a bed would inflict, she testified.
Hellman is charged with murder, child abuse, sodomy of a child younger than 13, sexual penetration with an object of a child younger than 13, producing child pornography, reproducing child pornography, and possessing child pornography.
Steven’s mother, Kayla Nicole Thomas, 27, also of Christiansburg, faces charges that include child abuse, forcible sodomy, inanimate object sexual penetration, producing child pornography, and reproducing child pornography.
Thomas had a plea hearing scheduled but now her case is set for her own two-day jury trial starting Jan. 20.
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