Kayla Nicole Thomas, the mother of murdered Virginia two-year-old Steven Meek II, was sentenced last week for her part in baby Steven’s sexual abuse.
The abuse, videos and photos of which were later found on Kayla’s phone, occurred three days before he was murdered in January of 2019 by Kayla’s boyfriend, Mckenzie Hellman.
All of the horrific details of the crimes committed against this sweet little boy can be found here. They’re too disturbing to rewrite, which tells you a lot.
Mckenzie, who was the mastermind behind Steven’s abuse by insisting Kayla film herself performing sexual acts on the toddler, was convicted in March of the sex abuse charges against him. On July 26, 2021, he pleaded guilty to his remaining charges of second-degree murder and child abuse, and in August, 27-year-old Mckenzie Kyle Hellman was sentenced to two life terms plus 90 additional years in prison. He is currently incarcerated in the Western Virginia Regional Jail, awaiting transfer to a state prison.
In June of 2021, Kayla’s case went to trial, during which she testified on her own behalf, admitting on the stand to performing sex acts on her son and recording the abuse on her phone before sending five 30-second clips to Mckenzie, who was in a bedroom at the other end of the family’s mobile home in Christiansburg. At the time, Kayla was pregnant with Mckenzie’s child; she told the court during her trial that she felt forced to commit the sexual abuse because she was afraid Mckenzie, who she claimed was on methamphetamine the day of the attacks, would hurt her or the unborn baby.
Kayla was found guilty after an hour’s deliberation by a jury, which was forced to view the photos and the videos of Kayla’s disgusting acts and subsequently recommended she be sentenced to life in prison. Last week, on Thursday, September 23, 2021, Judge Mike Fleenor sentenced 28-year-old Kayla Nicole Thomas to two life terms plus ten additional years in a Virginia Department of Corrections facility.
At the sentencing hearing, the judge said, “This has been a very disturbing, unsettling, and just awful case for everyone involved, to say the least.” He added that evidence against Kayla was overwhelming and clearly proved “depraved,” “unfathomable” crimes against her own son.
Several members of Steven’s family gave victim impact statements. Her mother, Melinda Chrisley, told the court, “I cannot wrap my head around it. He was so precious. She was supposed to protect that baby.”
Kayla’s stepfather, CJ Chrisley, who called his grandson “Lil Bit,” said at the hearing, “”It’s been horrifying. We will carry this every day for the rest of our lives… [Kayla] was not raised that way… It’s very hard to deal with, still to this day, just trying to figure out how something like that could happen.” About love letters Kayla sent to Mckenzie while in prison for her son’s sexual abuse, CJ added, “To speak to him and to actually want to communicate… it’s horrible.”
CJ, who added that they still loved their daughter and prayed for her soul, told the court he last saw Steven in October of 2018; the family was not able to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with him that year. He said that when Steven died, they still had a stack of wrapped presents for him; Melinda, he said, packed them all away, unable to bear donating the toys or allowing anyone else to play with them.
Steven’s father, Steven Meek Sr., said, “I really hope that we can get justice for my son.”
Kayla herself spoke at the sentencing, removing her face mask to reveal a tearful face as she offered an apology to Steven’s family, which is more than can be said for the remorseless Mckenzie Hellman. Kayla said, “I am deeply, deeply remorseful for what happened. I’d give anything to have my baby boy back. I’d do anything to get a second chance, and to do right by my son like I should have done in the first place.”
Kayla’s life sentences are mandatory punishments for forcible sodomy and inanimate object sexual penetration; she also received five years each for making child pornography and distributing or electronically transmitting child pornography.
What this pair did to baby Steven is absolutely, utterly reprehensible and unforgivable, and in my opinion, no matter how contrite either of them is or eventually becomes, there is no thought or action on this earth that could redeem them. May their lives in prison be more miserable with each passing minute.
Rest in peace, baby Steven.
Click here for my previous coverage of Steven’s story.
Sources: The Roanoke Times, 10 News, WDBJ7, the Associated Press, Law & Crime, Western Virginia Regional Jail website, Virginia Department of Corrections website