Steplock defense: defendant sees, hears demons - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Steplock defense: defendant sees, hears demons

Andrew Steplock makes his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Defense lawyers in a murder trial against a Casper man accused of shooting and killing his mother in February, say that they aren’t disputing that the suspect killed the victim.

During opening statements in the trial against 28-year-old Andrew Steplock, on November 18, 2019, a publicly appointed attorney said that evaluations done by the state hospital, on Andrew Steplock, overlooked a psychosis.

According to the defense team, Andrew Steplock sees and hears demons that he perceives as being real, and it was further claimed that these demons told Steplock to enter his family’s home, and ultimately to shoot and kill his mother.

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The opening defense statements came after statements made by District Attorney Dan Itzen, who dismissed the idea that Andrew Steplock saw and heard demons, as being rooted in the world of video games.

Andrew Steplock faces charges of Felony Murder, Murder in the 2nd Degree, Aggravated Burglary, and Possession of a Firearm with Unlawful Purpose. He is accused of fatally shooting his mother, 58-year-old Deborah Steplock, during the early morning hours of February 26, 2019.

Jury selection for the case began Monday morning, the jury was selected and recessed before 1:00 pm, for a lunch break.

Court resumed at approximately 2:15 pm, as the jury was instructed by the court, and the attorneys made their opening arguments.

Itzen painted a picture of the evening in question, describing the events in detail, often pointing out the cold February weather on the night in question, and also referring to a metaphorical cold surrounding the incidents.

Itzen said that the case would boil down to Andrew Steplock’s plea of Not Guilty by reason of mental deficiency. Itzen said that he believes that Andrew Steplock “understands reality” and didn’t qualify for having a mental deficiency.

As Itzen detailed the events leading up to the night in question, the killing of Deborah Steplock, and the investigation leading to the arrest of Andrew Steplock in Larimer County Colorado, he asked the jury to pay attention to how many decisions Andrew Steplock had made, that would seem to indicate that he knew what was happening.

He further noted that the explanation involving demons, was not made apparent until Andrew Steplock was interviewed by a doctor working for the State Hospital. Itzen said that no mention was made of the suspect seeing or hearing demons, when the suspect initially spoke with police.

Defense Attorneys meanwhile said that the Doctor contracted with the State Hospital chose to omit and overlook key evidence that indicated that Andrew Steplock sufferers from a psychosis. They further indicated the doctor “chose not to believe” Andrew Steplock’s reports of seeing and hearing demons.

After a short break, the prosecution called its first witness, who was identified as an older sister of Andrew Steplock, and daughter of Deborah Steplock.

During questioning the witness said that Andrew Steplock had been receiving money from Deborah Steplock, and that Andrew Steplock had recently grown distant from several members of the family.

The witness specifically testified to an event, the day leading up to Deborah Steplock’s death, where the witness was on the phone with Deborah Steplock. At the time of the conversation, it was indicated that Andrew Steplock was also in the home. The witness said that Andrew would often come over when “he needed something.”

The testimony indicated that Andrew had been asking Deborah for money, but had been denied. It was also indicated that while Andrew was out of the room and while Deborah was still on the phone, she swapped Andrew’s key for the house with a dummy key that would not work in the locks.

The witness indicated that Deborah Steplock had voiced displeasure in Andrew Steplock often dropping by unannounced, and switched the key out to disallow access but also to avoid confrontation.

Also testifying was the first Casper Police Department Patrol Officer that arrived on the scene, on the 100 block of East 10th Street, just after 1:03 am on Feb. 26.

The officer testified to her experience responding on the night, and the jury was shown several photos that the officer took of the scene. Most of the photos were of rooms in the house, pieces of furniture, the arrangement of the home, and one series of photos illustrated where Deborah Steplock had been located upon police arrival. Those photos showed a large pool of blood on the floor.

The photos were taken after Deborah Steplock was removed from the scene and transported to an area hospital. She was reportedly kept on life support for a period, before finally succumbing to her injuries.

During the first day of the trial, Itzen described Deborah Steplock as being hit in the heat, behind the ear.

The day’s proceedings wrapped shortly after 5:00 pm, Monday evening. The trial is scheduled to go through Friday.