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New charges filed in child’s death

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

CHRISTIANSBURG — Additional charges, including felony murder, have been filed against a man accused of killing and sexually abusing a toddler Jan. 11.

Christiansburg Police Chief Mark Sisson said at a Friday morning press conference that an autopsy determined two-year-old Steven Dale Meek II died as the result of extreme blunt force trauma to the head. He declined to be more specific regarding the injury, but called it “brutal” and said those details “will shock the community” when they are revealed at trial.

McKenzie Kyle Hellman, 25, of Christiansburg, stands accused of inflicting the injury. He now is charged with felony murder, in addition to child abuse.

Felony murder is charged when a person accidentally dies during the commission of another felony, in this case child abuse. However, police made it clear Friday they do not believe Meek’s death was accidental. Sisson said he expects the felony murder charge to eventually be upgraded.

Hellman is the boyfriend of Meek’s mother, Kayla Nicole Thomas, 25, of Christiansburg and formerly of Pulaski County. Police said Thomas was working when Meek was injured, but she was arrested on charges she sexually abused Meek.

Sisson said his department’s investigation into Meek’s death revealed the child not only was the victim of the physical abuse that led to his death, but also sexual abuse by Hellman and Thomas. Both are accused of involvement in child pornography.

It was revealed during the press conference that police believe another child was involved and that Thomas is believed to be pregnant.

Sisson said Meek isn’t the only child victim of the alleged sexual abuse. He said police seized numerous items in connection with the pornography and sexual abuse allegations.

With regards to that investigation, Hellman is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of 13, solicitation of a minor less than 15 years of age for sexual purposes, accessory to inanimate object sexual penetration of a person less than 13 years of age, accessory to forcible sodomy by engaging in fellatio with a child less than 13 years of age, possession of child pornography, accessory before the fact to distribution of child pornography and accessory before the fact to production of child pornography.

Thomas is charged with 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, and child neglect by being a parent or guardian, committing a willful act so gross and wanton as to show a reckless disregard for human life.

Hellman and Thomas are both being held without bond at Western Virginia Regional Jail.

Sisson said the investigation at present has not shown evidence anyone else was involved in the child’s death or sexual abuse. He says only Hellman and another child were present in the home when the head injury occurred.

Sisson said Friday it was Hellman who called for medical assistance Jan. 11 for an unresponsive child who had fallen. When police and rescue arrived at 430 Zinc Lane, they found Hellman seated on the living room floor next to the child.

Police and rescue personnel performed CPR on Meek for about 25 minutes before detecting a pulse. Meek was ultimately airlifted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where bruising and other injuries not consistent with a fall were found, according to Sisson.

Meek was placed on life support, but died Jan. 13. Medical evaluations determined he had only minimal brain activity, Sisson said.

Hellman allegedly told police Meek was injured when he fell from a toddler bed or crib.

Sisson said counseling has been made available for officers investigating the case. He said it’s always difficult to investigate cases involving children, but this has been one of the more difficult ones they’ve encountered.

“We are fortunate to live in a community where violent crime is rare,” he said. “However, that same good fortune makes it all the more shocking when things like this happen in our community. We can only imagine the pain felt by the loved ones of Steven Meek II, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”

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