DURANT, Okla. – A juror who convicted a former amateur MMA fighter of brutally beating and setting a woman on fire is speaking out about the case.
In March, authorities arrested Nehemiah Hellems after neighbors discovered the 50-year-old woman in the street.
“She had been beaten beyond recognition,” said one neighbor. “Her face had been singed, her face had been burned, her hair all singed, her arm is broke. And come to find out he had poured acetone on her and set her on fire.”
Investigators say Hellems was on parole when the victim gave him a place to stay. One day, officials say Hellems called her at work, accused her of stealing his meth and threatened to kill her dog.
She came home to see what was going on, which is when she was attacked.
For the next eight hours, Hellems brutally beat the woman and lit her on fire.
“He probably thought she was dead,” a neighbor said. “That’s probably what saved her life. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have run out that door.”
The woman suffered from a broken arm, intracranial bleeding, several cuts and numerous bruises.
As for the meth he thought she stole, it was later found in his shoe.
On Thursday, a jury convicted Hellems on five counts including domestic assault and battery by strangulation. They recommended a life sentence on each count.
“He’s had every opportunity to get his life together. So we felt it was our duty to get him off the streets as long as we possibly could,” the juror told KXII.
The juror said that the crime scene photos were horrific, and there was no doubt that Hellems needed to be put in prison.
“To see the relief on her face was worth it,” she said. “We felt that if we did not get him off the streets, the next person could die form him, his hands.”
His official sentencing date is set for December.