A Weatherford man was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of John "JJ" Lewis Helms in Archer County, according to a media release and court documents.
Helms was beaten and stabbed to death on a dead-end dirt road in Archer County in spring 2020, according to court documents.
Charles Ray Hunter, 41, was found guilty and sentenced after a trial lasting several days, according to a statement released Tuesday.
"This was a long trial, but the Archer County jurors delivered swift justice for Charles Ray Hunter for the brutal murder of John Lewis Helms on April 19, 2020," 97th District Attorney Casey Polhemus said in the statement.
Another defendant, Lee Alfredo Villalpando, 35, died before his case got to trial. And trial is pending for a third man accused of killing Helms, 47-year-old Saconn Renea Ayala of Wichita Falls.
"By sentencing Mr. Hunter to life in prison, I believe the jury sent a strong message that this type of violent crime will not be tolerated in their community," Polhemus said in the statement.
A Texas Ranger investigated the murder after Helms' body was discovered about 9 p.m. April 19, 2020, on Half House Road in Archer County, according to a previous Times Record News story.
He had suffered blunt force injuries to his head and body, and multiple stab wounds to his back, according to the story.
Hunter, Ayala and Villalpando drove Helms to Half House Road in Archer County after an argument, according to allegations in court documents.
The three men forced Helms out of the vehicle, attacked him and left him there, according to allegations.
The argument between Helms and Hunter allegedly stemmed from Helms stealing shoes and a hat from Hunter's girlfriend, according to allegations in complaints filed by a Texas Ranger.
Villalpando died after a stint in Archer County Jail on a murder charge from May 4, 2020, to Sept. 6 when he was taken to a hospital, according to a previous TRN story.
He was held on a $500,000 bond for the murder charge, according to a previous TRN story.
A district judge granted him a personal recognizance bond Sept. 17, and Villalpando was released from jail custody, according to a previous TRN story.
He died Sept. 21 in Wichita Falls, according to his obituary.
Ayala was being held Wednesday in Archer County Jail with no bond on a murder charge, according to online jail records.
He is also charged with theft of service of $2,500 to $30,000 and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, according to jail records.
In her statement Tuesday, Polhemus said her office could not have successfully prosecuted Hunter's case without the efforts of 97th DA's Office Investigator Chris Hamilton, Texas Ranger Matthew Kelly and Texas Ranger Jacob Weaver, the Archer County Sheriff’s Office, Wichita Falls police, the Drug Enforcement Division of the Wichita County DA’s Office, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Trish Choate, enterprise watchdog reporter for the Times Record News, covers education, courts, breaking news, politics and more. Contact Trish with news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Twitter handle is @Trishapedia.
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Charles Hunter sentenced to life for murdering Helms