Case Update: Virginia Man Sentenced for Sexual Abuse and Murder of 2-Year-Old Steven Meek II

Steven Meek II
Steven Meek II.

We’re another step closer to justice for a precious little boy who deserved so much better.

Two-year-old Steven Dale Meek II died on January 13, 2019 after two days on life support in Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Virginia. He was airlifted there after being reported unresponsive by his mother’s boyfriend, then-25-year-old Mckenzie Kyle Hellman.

Mckenzie’s multiple stories about how Steven’s injuries came about didn’t line up, and he was arrested the day Steven died. Initially, he was charged with a single count of felony child abuse, but that would change after Steven’s mother and Mckenzie’s girlfriend, Kayla Nicole Thomas, was arrested on January 16, 2019 on a horrifying list of charges, including:

  • Committing forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio against the victim’s will by force, threat or intimidation;
  • Inanimate object penetration of a person less than 13 years of age; 
  • Production of child pornography involving a child less than 15 years of age;
  • Possession and distribution of child pornography;
  • Being a parent or guardian, committing a willful act so gross and wanton as to show a reckless disregard for human life — child neglect.

The following day, Mckenzie’s charges were upgraded to include:

  • Murder while committing another felony (IE, child abuse);
  • Felony child abuse;
  • Two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child less than 13 years old; 
  • Solicitation of a minor less than 15 years old for sexual purposes;
  • Accessory to inanimate object sexual penetration with a child less than 13 years old;
  • Accessory to forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio with a child less than 13 years old;
  • Possession of child pornography;
  • Accessory before the fact to production of child pornography;
  • Accessory before the fact to distribution of child pornography.
Mackenzie Hellman booking photo
McKenzie Hellman’s second booking photo.
(Western Virginia Regional Jail)

In December of the same year, the state dropped some of Mckenzie’s charges, leaving him with:

  • Felony murder;
  • Felony child abuse/neglect;
  • Accessory before the fact to production of child pornography;
  • Accessory before the fact to distribution of child pornography;
  • Accessory to inanimate object sexual penetration with a child less than 13 years old;
  • Possession of child pornography.

These horrific charges stemmed not only from Steven’s death, but also from multiple photos, videos, and messages found on the couple’s phones indicating that at Mckenzie’s urging, Kayla penetrated her son on January 8, 2019 in a sexual manner with an object. I won’t get into the details; I’ve covered Steven’s case at length in the past, and those details are awful enough that I can’t bring myself to rehash them here. My previous coverage of Steven’s case is here.

Kayla Thomas mugshot
Kayla Thomas’s booking photo.
(Western Virginia Regional Jail)

Steven’s autopsy uncovered unthinkable injuries, including:

  • 22 blunt force injuries to the head
  • 13 injuries beneath the scalp
  • 4 injuries inside the mouth
  • 3 bruises inside the gum line
  • 10 injuries to the torso
  • Injuries to the right arm and left leg
  • Bruising on the anus and inside the rectum
  • Hemorrhaging inside the spinal cord
  • Bilateral retinal hemorrhages
  • Subdural hemorrhaging

According to the Commonwealth’s attorney, “An autopsy was conducted by Dr. Tharp of the Medical Examiner’s Office. She noted that Steven had twenty-two separate blunt injuries, bruises and scrapes to his head, including pattern injuries to his forehead and back of his head. She found thirteen additional injuries on the underside of his scalp. Steven had ten external injuries to his torso. In regards to the pattern injuries to both the front and back of his head, Dr. Tharp testified at the preliminary hearing that a pattern injury is when a specific object leaves its imprint on the skin. Dr. Tharp noted that the two separate pattern injuries looked very similar to each other. It is suspected that the pattern injuries were shoe prints — the defendants shoes were analyzed by the lab. Due to the insufficient detail present the impression marks on Steven’s head could not be associated with or excluded from the pattern on the defendant’s shoes.

Steven Meek II
Steven Meek II.
(Roanoke Times)

“As for the internal examination of Steven’s head, Dr. Tharp testified that the bruises underneath the scalp indicates a significant impact for a bruise to go all the way through. Steven had significant bleeding around his brain. 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.

“Dr. Tharp determined that Steven’s death was caused by blunt force injuries to the head.”

On March 15, 2021, after a three-day jury trial, 27-year-old Mckenzie Hellman was found guilty of all remaining charges against him except second degree murder and child abuse/neglect, for which he was scheduled to face trial on August 10, 2021.

In May, prosecutors dropped Kayla’s charge of child abuse/neglect. On June 10, after a jury trial that lasted a single day, 27-year-old Kayla Thomas was convicted of all four charges against her. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 23.

On July 26, Mckenzie pleaded guilty to his outstanding charges of second degree murder and child abuse, thereby avoiding a jury trial. Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said in an email, “There is no plea agreement. He pled guilty to both charges and there is no agreement as to an appropriate sentence.”

Instead of the trial that had been scheduled for August 10, Mckenzie’s sentencing hearing on both sets of charges took place that day in Montgomery County Circuit Court. As to be expected, Mckenzie further proved himself a remorseless slimebag, showing exactly zero emotion while four members of Steven’s family gave their victim impact statements to the court.

Steven Dale Meek II and CJ Chrisley
Steven and his Paw Paw.

Steven’s Paw Paw, maternal step-grandfather CJ Chrisley, struggled to speak through his pain, holding up photos of Steven as he told the court, “I’d like an explanation. I don’t know. I miss him… I know he’s in the arms of Jesus, and I’ll see him again. But the hurt’s there… so many things I looked forward to teaching him… but we won’t get that now.”

Baby Steven’s father, Steven Meek, told the court, “We all miss him more than words can describe.”

Steven’s grandmother, Paula DiGiovanni, said in her statement that her grief and depression over her grandson’s death “almost destroyed my life.”

Steven’s maternal grandmother, Kayla’s mother, Melinda Chrisley, said directly to Mckenzie, “I hope you get the punishment you deserve.”

The prosecution called for a heavy sentence. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Obenshain told the court the defendant “stole the life” of the little boy, adding that while Mckenzie “has had the chance to live his life… because of his actions, Steven Meek will never have that chance.”

When Judge Robert Turk asked Mckenzie if he had anything to say before receiving his sentence, the hairy creep shook his head and responded, “No.”

Judge Turk followed the jury’s sentencing recommendations, handing down a sentence of two life terms plus 90 additional years in prison.

According to 10News (WSLS), the breakdown of the sentence is as follows:

  • 5 years for possession of child pornography
  • 10 years for distribution of child pornography
  • 30 years for production of child pornography
  • 5 years for child abuse/neglect
  • 40 years for second-degree murder
  • Mandatory life sentence for sodomy
  • Mandatory life sentence for object penetration
Judge Robert Turk
Judge Robert Turk.
(13 News)

Judge Turk added another three-year suspended sentence and three years of supervised probation, which would only be relevant “if and only if you are ever released.”

In a statement from her office, Ms. Pettitt said, “Little Steven Meek paid the ultimate price for Hellman’s evil choices. Hellman has little remorse. Thankfully he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Ms. Pettitt told the Roanoke Times reporter Mike Gangloff in an email that it was unlikely Mckenzie would ever be released, but her reading of Virginia law was that he could possibly be considered for geriatric parole when he turns 60, which would be on December 10, 2053.

Here’s hoping the parole board laughs this monster out of the room if and when that time ever comes.

Click here for my ongoing coverage of Steven’s story.

  • Steven Meek II
  • Steven Meek II
  • Melinda Chrisley and Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek I and II
  • Michelle and Steven Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II with stepmom and dad
  • Steven Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Dale Meek II
  • Steven Meek II and aunt Abby
  • Steven Meek II and aunt Abby
  • Steven Meek II hand in hospital
  • Steven Meek II organ donation medal

Sources: The Roanoke Times, Law & Crime, WSLS 10 News, WDBJ7

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