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Raleigh man doesn't know why he beat infant stepdaughter

Posted August 30, 2011

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— An Iraq war veteran facing a possible death sentence if convicted in the beating death of his 10-month-old stepdaughter testified on his own behalf Tuesday, saying he never meant to kill the child and that he only wanted her to stop crying.

But an emotional Joshua Stepp said he couldn't explain why he beat, shook and slammed Cheyenne Yarley's face to the carpet of their Raleigh apartment while her mother was at work on the night of Nov. 8, 2009.

"I can only remember the really intense parts – when I was hurting Cheyenne," he said. "I don't know why I can remember that."

Defense attorneys say that Stepp, 28, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from having to pick up body parts of fellow soldiers after they were killed in a roadside bomb in Iraq.

He had been self-medicating with alcohol and prescription drugs, which, combined with Cheyenne's nonstop crying that night, had all the makings of a perfect storm, the attorneys say.

Stepp admitted to drinking heavily on the day of Cheyenne's death and said he had broken open four prescription painkillers to feel the effects from them more quickly.

"I felt like I was on some sort of mission to get messed up," he said.

The infant would always cry when her mother left her, Stepp testified, and he thought that she would eventually calm down, like she always would do.

But she never did.

"It's maddening. I'm trying to do what I can to stop her crying and just nothing is working," Stepp recalled. "It's frustrating. It's confusing. It's like you can't fix something. It's right there in front of you, but you can't fix it."

Prosecutors contend that he not only beat the infant for nearly an hour but that he also sexually assaulted her. The infant showed signs of sexual abuse, an emergency room doctor testified last week, and investigators found her blood on Stepp's underwear.

Defense attorneys say that Cheyenne was injured when a frustrated Stepp changed her diaper repeatedly that night. There was never any indication he had sexually abused her before, they say, and investigators never found any of the girl's DNA on Stepp.

Stepp, who's expected to continue his testimony Wednesday, denied the accusation Tuesday when his attorney, Terry Alford, asked him about it.

"No. God, no," he said, but said he didn't know how her blood ended up on his underwear.

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  • so you dont like my opinion ok Sep 2, 2011

    can detest this man as much as everyone else. only difference here is that im smart enough to not act as if i know anything about his mental capacity, unlike everyone here who appear to know everything about him. mileage v3.0
    Yeah mileage I knew where you were coming from the minute I saw the pic of Brad Cooper....
    People are only writing what they think/feel, this is an open forum where people can do that and should be able to do that without nasty comments from you and others....

  • trentraznor Aug 31, 2011

    Remember... most of the folks on GOLO could have been chosen to serve on the jury who will determine his guilt and/or his punishment. Our legal system does indeed say that a man who brutally kills will be subject to the opinions of a jury of his peers.

  • trentraznor Aug 31, 2011

    "amazing how many psychiatrists we have here on Golo. you people all think you know everything, when in reality, you know nothing of the details. jealousy? resentment? control? what do you people know about the inner workings of this man's mind? absolutely nothing."

    I know he brutally killed a ten month old baby. That says a great deal about the inner workings of his mind. Enough for a jury to be convened and possibly a death sentence.

  • paulawindley Aug 31, 2011

    His wife hasn't divorced him yet?

  • gpcatgirl Aug 31, 2011

    mileage why do you keep trying to defend this EVIL man. There is NO excuse for whathe has done. And further more why would he be running around in just his underwear all day baby sitting a 10 month old. He is down right mean and evil Along with Casey Anthony they both need to be let out in the general public and see how long they last. I wait every day to hear that she has been murdered.

  • rufiedufie Aug 31, 2011

    whatever the punishment is, i hope it is very painful to him like it was to that 10 month old baby

  • dirkdiggler Aug 31, 2011

    just because he killed a child does not open him up to the resident shrinks here on golo to make absurd assumptions and post them as fact.

    i can detest this man as much as everyone else. only difference here is that im smart enough to not act as if i know anything about his mental capacity, unlike everyone here who appear to know everything about him.

  • esprg Aug 31, 2011

    that he realized what he was doing.

  • esprg Aug 31, 2011

    Mileage v3.0___how about this, follow me on this now...how about you let him beat & kill you like he did a DEFENSELESS 10 MONTH OLD...yeah how about that...sunshine.

    Of course we have no full knowledge or details about what his mental problem was/is; but seriously parents are faced with kids crying, whining, and acting out for no reason, sometimes during the worst times. I myself have been guilty of yelling and screaming at my kids, but he himself stated in the story "I can only remember the really intense parts – when I was hurting Cheyenne," he said. "I don't know why I can remember that."

    Which is obvious at some point, probably too late, but at some point during his attack again on a DEFENSELESS 10 MONTH OLD

  • twc Aug 31, 2011

    He'll have plenty of time to figure out why he did it. Life without parole does give one pause.

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