Monday, July 18, 2011

Jury Selection Begins in Joshua Stepp Trial

Today, jury selection began in the capital murder trial of Joshua Stepp in Wake County. Stepp is charged with the first degree murder and first degree sex offense of his 10 month old step-daughter, Cheyenne Yarley, in November 2009.

His attorneys have asserted that, while Mr. Stepp's conduct caused her death, he is not guilty of premeditated first degree murder or sex offense. Stepp came to police attention when he called 911 to report that his stepdaughter was choking on toilet paper.

The case will likely take six or more weeks. If convicted, Stepp faces the death penalty.

Another capital trial in Wake County is surprising after a jury returned a life verdict in the case of Samuel Cooper in April 2010. Mr. Cooper was convicted of serial murders. His life verdict led Orange County District Attorney Jimmy Woodall to say, "You look at that case as a prosecutor and say, 'If you can't get the death penalty in that case, gee, what case are you going to get the death penalty in?" (Read old post on this here).

You have to wonder, given the current climate (executions have been in moratorium since 2006 and the entire death penalty is under sustained attack due to demonstrated racial bias and SBI scandal), if the Wake County DA is wise to use so many resources to try another capital case.

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