ARCHER COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Charles Ray Hunter, one of three suspects in the murder of 24-year-old John Lewis Helms in April 2020, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison by an Archer County jury on Tuesday, December 7.

97th District Attorney Casey Polhemus said, despite a long trial, the jury delivered swift justice for the brutal murder of John Lewis Helms on April 19, 2021, on Half House Road.

By sentencing Hunter to life in prison, District Attorney Polhemus hopes to show the community that violent crime will not be tolerated.

In the interview after his arrest, Hunter was asked about his involvement in the beating and stabbing in April of last year.

Hunter claims Saconn Ayala of Wichita Falls and Lee Villalpando of Olney arrived at his apartment with Helms, who had allegedly stolen from Hunter’s girlfriend.

Hunter denied being involved in the beating and said he didn’t stop it in fear for his life because he knew the two men knew where he and his family lived.

Hunter is the first of the defendants to be tried. The second defendant, Saconn Ayala, is on the docket and is expected to start now that Hunter’s trial is finished.

The third man charged, Lee Villalpando, died in September 2021 before coming to trial.