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Psychiatrists: Stepp did not intend to kill child

Posted September 1, 2011

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— After the testimony of several mental health professionals Thursday, the defense rested in the murder trial of Joshua Stepp.

Stepp, 28, is charged with the first-degree murder of his 10-month-old stepdaughter in November 2009. He has admitted to beating, shaking and slamming Cheyenne Yarley into the carpet when she wouldn't stop crying, but says he doesn't know why he did it.

He testified Tuesday that he was drunk and high on prescription painkillers at the time and can remember only "the most intense" parts of that night.

Defense attorneys working to keep him from facing a possible death penalty say Stepp, an Iraq war veteran, used painkillers and alcohol as a way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, which resulted from seeing members of his Army unit killed by a roadside bomb.

The combination of the alcohol, drugs and PTSD, along with Cheyenne's nonstop crying, led to the crime, Stepp's attorneys contend.

Forensic psychiatrists Dr. Nicole Wolfe and Dr. Jonathan Weiner testified Thursday to Stepp's mental condition.

"It was our forensic opinion, both mine and Dr. Wolfe's that the intent was to try to stop this inconsolable baby from crying," Weiner said. Neither doctor believes Stepp intended to kill Cheyenne.

Joshua Stepp Docs: Stepp did not intend to kill child

Prosecutors, in seeking the death penalty, say that Stepp also sexually assaulted the child that night. Injuries to her body were consistent with sexual abuse.

During combative cross-examination Wednesday, Stepp maintained that he never sexually assaulted his stepdaughter and that the injuries happened because he was rough with her as he changed her diaper several times that night.

Superior Court Judge Osmond W. Smith III dismissed a juror Thursday after he spotted the juror nodding off during testimony. The juror said he has been under family strain. An alternate will replace him on the panel, which will decide whether Stepp is responsible for Cheyenne's death.

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  • bombayrunner Sep 2, 2011

    he did not intend to kill her ... just beat and have sex with her. thats all.

  • scottvette Sep 2, 2011

    awwww...he did not INTEND on killing her. Bless is heart. COLD HEARTED MONSTER. I hope he gets his face slapped to the carpet and tiolet paper (brown) stuffed down his throat as he cries for his Mommy. sick, sick man--- brings out the worse is us all! :\

  • sap0953 Sep 2, 2011

    "He did not intend to kill the child" ... too bad - he did. He killed her in a horrific way!

  • hmmmmm Sep 2, 2011

    Nah....He didn't intend to kill her, just victimize her for his own perverse reasons, and decided he could just blame drugs, alcohol & the US Government, because he VOLUNTEERED to be a soldier. It figures he and his lawyers are also trying the PTSD route.That is an atrocious affront to all the HONORABLY injured & sick veterans & a true mockery of our justice system. He cries every day that she died? That's because, he wanted to keep her for multiple uses, once wasn't enough for him. Hold on Mr. Stepp, your goin to the chamber, and it's gonna be a wild ride down...

  • twc Sep 2, 2011

    He accidentally beat her to death. All because he was a war veteran.

  • barbstillkickin Sep 2, 2011

    So what the Doctor is saying that any of our soldiers can come home and kill their family or wife or child and say the service made them do it. I feel for our service men and women but my husband was in Vietnam you know where we killed Babies or that is what this country said. Anyway he did not suffer this bad and believe me it was a lot worse there. We can not keep letting these people use brain sickness as a reason to kill.

  • anastasia Sep 2, 2011

    The *new* usage of 'rough sex' has become 'rough diaper changing' when the human being is too young to consent properly. Stepp should fry for what he did. Too bad a lethal injection is all he faces.

  • iamsiam1096 Sep 2, 2011

    smbiz said - the lame bought-and-paid-for excuse. There is an excuse for everything and nobody takes responsibility. People are tired of it, I know I am..

    AMEN! A major problem with society is they are no longer taught that they have any responsibility. Our soldiers go thru alot and deal with alot but they don't all go out and beat a kid to stop it from crying...he knew something was wrong his wife knew something was wrong and neither took any responsibility to get him help. He chose to drink and take pills, he now pays the consequences of his actions. If he were a real soldier he would man up and accept responsibility and the punishment that goes with it.

  • bitsyfae1 Sep 2, 2011

    ugh! Nothing like acccidentally hitting the return key!

    @Smbiz...try working 3 12 hour night shifts in a row...thats 7pm-7a with maybe a total of 8 hours *real* sleep for the 72 hours that have passed. You might have a shift working disorder! I do it...its exhausting and surely taking years off of my life, but I have to feed my family and have bills to pay.

    its also not an excuse to murder someone though!

  • mustainemad Sep 2, 2011

    umm, that's right, he meant to rape the baby, not murder her--maybe keep her alive for more???

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